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Syria's top diplomat in North Korea holds banquet for officials

By Elizabeth Shim
Syria's top diplomat in North Korea holds banquet for officials
Syria’s top diplomat celebrated the upcoming birth anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung with North Korea officials, according to Pyongyang’s state media. File Photo by Franck Robichon/EPA

April 13 (UPI) -- North Korea and Syria reconfirmed friendly ties on Wednesday, according to Pyongyang's state media.

KCNA reported Thursday Syria's top diplomat to North Korea, Ambassador Tammam Sulaiman, held a banquet to commemorate the upcoming birth anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

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"On the occasion of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung's birthday, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Syria Arab Republic, Tammam Sulaiman, held a banquet at his embassy," Pyongyang stated.

North Korea officials in attendance included the recently appointed chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly's foreign affairs committee Ri Su Yong; the chairman of the North Korea-Syria Friendship Association Kim Yong Jae; and Thae Hyong Chol, the president of Kim Il Sung University.

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Thae is the brother of Thae Yong Ho, the high-profile defector who fled Pyongyang's embassy in London.

According to KCNA, Suleiman toasted the friendship between the two countries.

"Goodwill established between the past leaders of Syria and North Korea continue unchanged for generations," the Syrian diplomat reportedly said. "We will surely win in the struggle for justice, against the U.S. imperialists and their followers."

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Ri, who is also vice chairman of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party, credited Kim Jong Un and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the "traditional friendly relationship" between the two countries.

The banquet took place about a week after Kim sent a letter congratulating Assad on the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling Ba'ath party.

The message was sent Thursday, before U.S. President Donald Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria.

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Pyongyang has maintained cordial ties with the dictatorship in Damascus, and the two countries have reportedly cultivated military ties for many years.

North Korea may have also helped Syria build a nuclear facility destroyed by an Israeli air raid in 2007.

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