“I am going to visit the DPRK and meet HE Kim Jong Un. The world welcomes the remarkable events in the Korean peninsula brought about recently by the outstanding political calibre and wise leadership of HE Kim Jong Un,” Assad said on May 30, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported, using the initials of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Assad reportedly made the remarks as he received the credentials of North Korean Ambassador Mun Jong Nam. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian president’s office.
Pyongyang and Damascus maintain good relations, and United Nations monitors have accused North Korea of cooperating with Syria on chemical weapons, a charge the North denies. Both countries have faced international isolation, North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme, and Syria over its tactics during a bloody civil war.
Since the beginning of the year, however, North Korea’s Kim has launched a flurry of diplomatic meetings with leaders in China and South Korea, and is scheduled to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. Since taking power in 2011, Kim has not publicly met with another head of state in North Korea.
According to South Korea’s foreign ministry, North Korea established diplomatic relations with Syria in 1966, opening its embassy in Damascus. Syria opened its mission in Pyongyang in 1969.