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View more articles by Colin Zwirko
Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
Senior North Korean diplomat Ri Su Yong and top Cuban officials agreed in a series of meetings in Havana last week to deepen cooperation and exchanges in the name of their common socialist systems, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
In a report on a meeting with Ri Thursday, President Miguel Díaz-Canel was quoted as having said the two countries must “further mutual support and solidarity in the struggle for defending sovereignty, dignity and socialism,” owing to the “present complicated international situation.”
The report also said Ri conveyed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “leads the efforts to boost equally-beneficial exchange and cooperation between both countries.”
Cuba’s presidential office, in turn, stated in a report that “both sides discussed the excellent state of bilateral relations and the traditional bonds of friendship that unite us.”
Cuban and North Korean state media coverage largely published similar messages from Ri’s meetings with various officials since his arrival in Havana on Tuesday, stressing the two countries’ traditional alliance and plans to boost exchanges.
Following a series of meetings on Wednesday, other officials Ri met on May 23 included Communist Party leader Raúl Castro, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) Esteban Lazo Hernández, and vice foreign minister Marcelino Medina González.
Hernández reportedly said during his meeting with Ri that the delegation’s visit “would serve as an occasion for accelerating the development of the friendly relations between the two countries,” according to KCNA.
An ANPP readout of the meeting also said the two “indicated the will to continue strengthening the legislative ties between both nations.”
The North Korean delegation left Havana on Saturday, according to a Twitter post by vice foreign minister Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, though his arrival back in Pyongyang has yet to be reported.
Regarding the activities of the delegation on Friday, between meetings with top officials the previous day and their departure on May 25, the only details reported in either country’s state media were KCNA readouts of an exchange of gifts between Kim Jong Un and Díaz-Canel.
It is possible Ri continued working-level talks or carried out economic-related activities that day, as he did in Vietnam during the Hanoi summit in late February when he led a group to a startup car factory, a plastic factory, and a telecom giant, among other locations.
Other DPRK officials joining Ri – who serves as a vice-chairman of the Workers Party of Korea’s Central Committee (WPK CC) and head of its International Department – for the talks were his subordinate in the department Ryu Myong Son, vice foreign minister Pak Myong Guk, and resident Ambassador to Cuba Ma Chol Su.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Cuban Presidential Office