NKorean Leader Meets Syrian Delegation

Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 06:22 AM


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PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has met a Syrian delegation during commemorations of the anniversary of the Korean War cease-fire, amid reports Pyongyang is helping the Syrian regime's battle against rebels.

Kim had a "cordial talk" Wednesday with the delegation led by Abdullah al-Ahmar, deputy general secretary of Syria's ruling Baath Arab Socialist Party, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Thursday.

The North has invited foreign delegations to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of what it calls the Fatherland Liberation War, in which it claims victory.

Abdullah conveyed warm greetings to Kim from Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, KCNA said.

He expressed belief that friendship and cooperation between their countries would "continue growing strong in the interests of the two peoples."

Kim "exchanged with the guests views on the issue of boosting the bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern including the regional situation," KCNA said.

North Korea and Syria have reportedly had a military relationship for some years, including during the current civil war.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said North Korean military experts have been deployed in the Syrian city of Aleppo for months.

"Experts from North Korea have been in Aleppo for months," the observatory's chief Rami Abdel Rahman has said. "They oversee military operations and help the regime's forces in weapons training. They don't take part in the fighting on the ground, but they give advice."

There were also widespread reports that North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear plant that was destroyed by Israeli bombing in 2007.

South Korean newspapers have also carried unconfirmed reports that the North tried to export missile technology and parts to Syria.

© AFP 2014

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