North Korean officials make rare public visit to Iran

North Korean officials make rare public visit to Iran
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24 April 2024
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A high-profile North Korean delegation is making a rare foreign visit to Iran, the state-run KCNA news agency has reported. The last time officials from Pyongyang made a publicly announced trip to Tehran was in 2019.

A delegation headed by North Korea’s minister for external economic relations, Yun Jong Ho, departed for Iran by plane on Tuesday, according to the agency. KCNA did not reveal further details about the visit.

In February, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a congratulatory message to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the 45th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Kim expressed confidence that “the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between our two countries forged on the road of joint struggle against imperialism will expand and develop in various fields.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said last Tuesday that Washington is “incredibly concerned” about alleged cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang in nuclear and ballistic missile development. The two countries remain under harsh international sanctions over their weapons programs.

Last week, South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said it is “keeping tabs on whether the North Korean technology was included in Iran’s ballistic missiles launched against Israel, given the North and Iran’s missile cooperation in the past.”

On April 13, Tehran fired several hundred missiles and drones at military targets inside Israel, in response to an earlier strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, which left two generals and several other senior officers dead.

Pyongyang has also faced accusations from the West that Palestinian armed group Hamas, which has ties with Iran, used North Korean weapons in its attack against Israel on October 7.

At the time, KCNA rejected the claims as “a groundless and false rumor,” aimed to “shift the blame for the Middle East crisis caused by [the US] wrong hegemonic policy onto a third country.”

North Korea and Iran have also been accused by the US and its allies of respectively providing artillery shells and drones to Russia amid the conflict with Ukraine. Pyongyang and Tehran have denied the claims, while Russia has insisted it relies on domestically produced weapons for its military operation.

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