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North Korea calls attention to 'comradely friendship' with Cuba on Castro anniversary

North Korean state media said Thursday Pyongyang will “make every effort” to strengthen ties with Cuba on the 35th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s visit. File Photo by Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA-EFE
North Korean state media said Thursday Pyongyang will “make every effort” to strengthen ties with Cuba on the 35th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s visit. File Photo by Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA-EFE

March 11 (UPI) -- North Korea highlighted its friendship with Cuba in state media, calling bilateral ties "strategic and comradely" after the United States said previous policies on Cuba are under review.

Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated in an editorial published Thursday North Korea was commemorating the 35th anniversary of Fidel Castro's visit to North Korea. The two nations shared the values of "anti-imperialism and socialism," the paper claimed.

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"The hearts of the North Korean and Cuban people are firmly connected into one," the Rodong said. "In the future, we will continue to make every effort to strengthen and develop goodwill and solidarity with the Cuban people."

Cuba was a staunch supporter of North Korea during Kim Il Sung's period of rule. In 1986, Castro visited North Korea to show solidarity with Kim and boycotted the 1988 Seoul Olympics. North Korea also held a three-day mourning period after Castro's death in 2016.

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North Korea normalized relations with Cuba in 1960. In 2015 a Cuban delegation visited Pyongyang, and in 2018 Cuban President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez traveled to Pyongyang for a three-day visit.

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The Cuban leader met with Kim Jong Un, who gave the delegation a red-carpet welcome.

The rare North Korean statement on relations with Cuba comes after Kim Jong Un pledged during the Eighth Party Congress to strengthen friendships around the world, according to Yonhap. Cuba also is being mentioned after the White House said decisions on Cuba are under review.

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White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the president was "carefully reviewing policy decisions made in the prior administration, including the decision to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism."

But Psaki also said a "Cuba policy shift is not currently among President Biden's top priorities."

The Trump administration listed Cuba as a state sponsor of terror. During his campaign, President Joe Biden pledged to ease Cuba-related restrictions.

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North Korea called the United States its "biggest enemy" in early January, but since has stayed away from overtly criticizing Washington.

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