About the Author
View more articles by Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, with the two discussing bilateral relations and “American hostility”, according to a Syrian state media report published the same day.
According to the report, published by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikda and the Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban.
“President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday received Foreign Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Ri Yong-ho and the accompanying delegation,” the report reads.
“President al-Assad said that the American hostility towards all the independent states knows no geographical limits, adding that the defeats of Western projects and steadfastness of independent countries such as Syria and the DPRK and others are capable of changing the international arena and restoring balance to it,” it added.
Ri also conveyed a “verbal message” of support from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
While not being reported to have directly named the U.S., the article indicated that Ri said the enemy faced by Syria and the DPRK are “one and the same, which requires increasing coordination”.
The report also said that Ri’s delegation and Minister al-Moallem discussed bilateral relations and “means to improve them in all fields, particularly politics and (the) economy.”
“The two sides affirmed the need to maintain coordination in international circles to confront challenges and unjust sanctions,” the SANA report added.
North Korea and Syria have longstanding ties, which have also involved cooperation in the field of both conventional and non-conventional weaponry.
In its 2018 report, a UN Panel of Experts (PoE) tasked with monitoring DPRK sanctions implementation detailed recent and ongoing cooperation between North Korea and Syria in ballistic missiles, dual-use technologies, and conventional arms.
This includes 40 previously unreported shipments from North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017 involving “entities designated by member states as front companies for the Scientific Studies Research Centre of the Syrian Arab Republic”, the PoE said.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, SSRC is “responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them”.
Ri’s delegation arrived in the middle eastern country following a brief visit to Vietnam where economic cooperation was also on the agenda.
During his visit, he met with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh, who subsequently offered the country’s support to North Korea in the field of economic development.
Ri is also set to travel to Beijing for a two-day state visit starting December 6.
Featured image: Syrian Arab News Agency