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North Korea throws support behind Venezuela's Maduro regime

By
Elizabeth Shim
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has received the support of Russia, China and North Korea. File Photo by Miraflores/EPA-EFE
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has received the support of Russia, China and North Korea. File Photo by Miraflores/EPA-EFE

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- North Korea is calling for "socialist solidarity and cooperation" with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as countries like China and Russia are endorsing the ruling regime.

In a statement published to its foreign ministry website on Monday, North Korea stated it will "expand ties" with Caracas through diplomatic channels, despite calls from Venezuelans for Maduro to step down.

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Pyongyang confirmed Ri Song Gil, the North Korean ambassador to Venezuela, met with Laura Suarez, a Venezuelan diplomat in charge of Asia, Middle East and Oceanian Affairs, according to South Korean news service Newsis.

Ri reportedly told the Venezuelan government North Korea will continue to "strengthen solidarity and cooperation with socialist countries in accordance with the ideology of self-reliance, peace and good will" and to "develop relations with all nations that exhibit friendship."

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Ri also discussed the details of Kim Jong Un's fourth summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting in January took place behind closed doors and little information has been disclosed about the summit in January.

According to North Korea's foreign ministry, Suarez said Venezuela "expresses gratitude" for Pyongyang's "continued support of the Bolivarian Revolution."

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"We will make every effort to expand the relationship between the two countries this year," Suarez reportedly said.

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Venezuela is facing a political crisis as election results are under dispute. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself president, and the United States, Britain and most of Latin America have endorsed the political challenger.

North Korea's support for Maduro comes at a time when the Kim regime is seeking stronger ties to neighbors Russia and China.

Yonhap reported Monday North Korea sent a government delegation to visit the Russian Far East to discuss economic cooperation.

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The meeting was disclosed on the Facebook page of the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, according to the report.

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