The North Korean and Cuban foreign ministers “strongly rejected” the Trump administration’s recent redesignation of Pyongyang as a state sponsor of terrorism (SSOT) at a bilateral meeting this week, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday.
The DPRK government delegation, headed by foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, departed last week to Cuba for a state visit.
Ri and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla held a bilateral meeting on Wednesday at the foreign ministry in Havana.
“Both sides strongly reject the U.S.’s authoritarian action of redesignating the DPRK as a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ as the violent infringement of international law,” KCNA said in a Korean-language dispatch.
Cuba was designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1981, but was removed from the list in May 2015 amid a thawing of relations between Havana and Washington.
“Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla talked about the people’s struggle for sovereignty, independence and self-determination and the right to establish the political, economic, social and cultural system of their own style,” KCNA reported.
The North Korean foreign minister said that Pyongyang would “further strengthen defense capability in response to the U.S. hostile policy against the DPRK and blackmail.”
Ri also raised the “acute situation” on the Korean peninsula and accused the U.S. of “imperialist military maneuvers.”
Both foreign ministers expressed their “unwavering will to cement and improve” ties between Pyongyang and Havana.
Cuba foreign ministry on Wednesday said that Ambassador of the DPRK in Havana Pak Chang Yul, Director of the Department of Diplomatic Documents Pak Yong Su, and Deputy Director of the Asia, Africa and Latin America Division at the Foreign Ministry Ri Il Gyu accompanied the foreign minister.
“They strongly rejected the unilateral and arbitrary lists and designations established by the U.S. government which serve as a basis for the implementation of coercive measures which are contrary to international law,” a statement carried by the Cuban foreign ministry read.
While relations between Cuba and the U.S. improved under Obama, Havana has come under increasing pressure since the inauguration of Donald Trump in January.
A spokesperson of the DPRK Foreign Ministry issued a statement this June “strongly” denouncing the “new policy of the U.S. towards Cuba.”
“The DPRK will in the future, too, extend full support and encouragement to the Party, government and people of Cuba in their struggle for independence against imperialism and for socialism and will always be standing shoulder to shoulder with them,” it read.
In spite of close ties between Pyongyang and Havana, this is Ri’s first visit to Havana since becoming foreign minister in May last year.
Choe Ryong Hae, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, visited the country a year ago to express condolences over the death of longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Choe previously held talks with Cuban Vice-President Salvador Valdes Mesa in August last year, local media reported.
A delegation from the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) led by Kim Yong Chol, member of the Political Bureau and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK – met with Cuban president Raul Castro in May 2016.
Two visits by senior North Korean officials to Havana took place in 2015. The late Kang Sok Ju, then-member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), met the Cuban foreign minister in June during his visit to Cuba.
Ri Su Yong, DPRK foreign minister at the time, also traveled to the country in March 2015 and held talks with Fidel Castro and Parrilla.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has also held rare talks with Cuban delegations, meeting Vice President of the Cuban Council of State Salvador Valdés Mesa, a special envoy of Fidel Castro, in July 2016.
Kim also received a state delegation led by First Vice President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez in early September on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Havana and Pyongyang established diplomatic relations in 1960.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba
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