SEOUL, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A top North Korean politician said this week Pyongyang has a right to be recognized as a legitimate nuclear weapons state while denouncing the sanctions that have been imposed on the country.
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong Nam made the remarks during meetings with state leaders at the 17th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Venezuela, according to KCNA.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency reported Kim met individually with the presidents of Venezuela, Iran and Cuba. Kim also met with leaders of Ecuador, Bolivia, Zimbabwe and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the report.
In his discussions with state leaders Kim reportedly said North Korea was pressured to retain nuclear weapons in the face of the "hostile policy of the United States and its followers," a reference to U.S. allies like South Korea and Japan.
Kim also said international sanctions against North Korea are "unjust" and emphasized the need to improve relations among the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, according to the North Korean press statement.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who was part of the Pyongyang delegation to the summit, also held individual meetings with the leaders and with the foreign minister of Sudan, KCNA stated.
Ri had said last week at the summit Pyongyang was prepared to respond to "military provocations" from the United States while condemning the U.S. deployment of two B-1 supersonic bombers over South Korean airspace.