A delegation from the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for a series of high-level meetings, the DPRK’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
Led by State Secretary Damdinsuren Davaasuren, the delegation met with foreign minister Ri Yong Ho and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Ri Su Yong in separate meetings Thursday.
Details of the topics of discussion have yet to be released by either side.
Davaasuren became State Secretary in 2016, a role within the Mongolian MOFA which assists the foreign minister and deputy foreign minister.
He speaks Korean in addition to English and Russian, according to his profile on the MOFA website, and studied international business in South Korea in the late 1990s.
The most recent high-level contacts between the two countries came in December last year, when DPRK foreign minister Ri Yong Ho led a delegation to Ulaanbaatar to celebrate 70 years of bilateral ties.
In those talks with Mongolian foreign minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar, the two sides discussed “brisk exchange and cooperation in various fields” that year and “exchanged views on the development of bilateral relations and international and regional issues,” KCNA reported.
Earlier this week, Tsogtbaatar was seen attending a cultural event at a North Korean restaurant in Ulaanbaatar hosted by the DPRK ambassador O Sung Ho, according to a Facebook post from the Corporate Union of Mongolian Shamans.
China’s Xinhua also reported in early April that O Sung Ho, in a meeting with Mongolian Parliament Speaker Gombojav Zandanshatar, said “the DPRK attaches great importance to DPRK-Mongolia relations.”
“A further expansion of friendly relations and cooperation between our two countries is a foreign-policy priority for the DPRK,” O reportedly added.
Zandanshatar, in turn, said “the Mongolian parliament will pay special attention to further developing traditional friendly relations between our two countries,” and that Ulaanbaatar is “willing to further enhance parliamentary cooperation with the DPRK.”
The two countries’ relations have remained friendly over the past decades, from an era where the two shared similar political systems and similarly precarious positions between Beijing and Moscow.
There was even speculation over winter that Mongolia could be a candidate for the second U.S.-DPRK summit — which eventually took place in Vietnam — with President Khaltmaagiin Battulga in October officially inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit the country.
Writing for NK News in December, analyst on Russian foreign policy in East Asia for the Sino-NK research group Anthony Rinna cautioned that “the bilateral DPRK-Mongolia relationship will not likely be of any major consequence in and of itself.”
“The future of Mongolia-North Korea relations, rather, will likely be most pronounced in a multilateral format, whether in economics or security,” Rinna wrote at the time.
The meetings in Pyongyang this week come as North Korea and Russia are preparing the first summit between Kim Jong Un and President Vladimir Putin in the latter half of April.
A location has yet to be confirmed for the summit, though it is widely expected to take place in Vladivostok.
While the U.S. watches for how enhancing Pyongyang-Moscow ties may affect ongoing denuclearization negotiations, Washington may also be hoping Ulaanbaatar furthers its role as mediator with the discussions this week.
Last September, during a visit to Washington by Mongolian Prime Minister Khurelsukh, the U.S. and Mongolia released a joint statement declaring that “both sides also reaffirmed the essential importance to regional and global security of the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK.”
The two “pledged to continue cooperation and information sharing to ensure the full implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions,” and the U.S. “thanked Mongolia for its assistance in this regard and urged continued support for the efforts of the international community.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 650 words of this article.