06/04/2018, 09.41
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Assad will visit North Korea and meet Kim Jong-un

Announcement made by the official Pyongyang media, without specifying the date. No comment from the government of Damascus. The two countries have maintained solid commercial and military relations for years. Syria and North Korea are subject to isolation and sanctions. Assad would be the first international leader to visit North Korea.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will visit North Korea and meet with his leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang. According to the official North Korean agency KCNA the Syrian leader will be the first head of state and government to visit the country and be received by his absolute master.

KCNA did not indicate an official date for the meeting. However, the announcement comes just days before the historic and eagerly awaited meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump, first cancelled by Washington and then re-entered on the agenda. The face to face meeting between the White House leader and the Pyongyang dictator is scheduled for June 12th.

Announcing Assad's visit to North Korea, KCNA relaunches the words spoken by the Syrian leader. He would point out how "the world welcomes these exceptional events" that characterize the Korean peninsula "thanks to Kim's wise guidance".

Contacted by the main international press agencies, the Syrian government and Assad’s closest collaborators did not want to comment on the news released by the Koreans.

Pyongyang and Damascus have been maintaining strong strategic and commercial relations for decades. For some years the two countries also shared relationships and knowledge in the military field. A relationship that has continued in these years of civil war in the Middle Eastern Arab state.

A relationship that also fuelled suspicions of chemical weapons trafficking from Pyongyang to Damascus. Several reports by the UN and the South Korean government would confirm these exchanges in the recent past.

Analysts and experts also recall how North Korea made a significant contribution to the construction of a nuclear plant in Syria. The structure was bombed and destroyed in 2007 by Israeli fighters.

Both Syria and North Korea are subject to isolation and sanctions: Pyongyang for its atomic program in violation of international law and Damascus for the atrocities committed by the government military in the context of the war. Since rising to power in 2011, Kim has never met an international leader within his country. He made only one official trip abroad in recent weeks, when he travelled to China – North Korea’s main ally - for a face-to-face meeting with President Xi Jinping.

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