North Korea welcomes Cuban president to Pyongyang
SEOUL — Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel was due in Pyongyang on Sunday, North Korea’s state media reported, describing the visit as a “historic event” highlighting the “invincible friendship” of the two allies.
The visit comes amid stalled talks between North Korea and the United States and only days after Washington imposed fresh economic restrictions on Cuba.
Washington’s ties with Havana were fully restored in 2015 after more than half a century of enmity, but have deteriorated since President Donald Trump took office.
Communist Cuba is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies.
“The Korean people warmly welcome the visit to Pyongyang by Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez,” said an editorial carried by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
“His current visit… is a historic event which powerfully demonstrates invincible friendship and unity and comradely friendship,” it added.
The paper featured a separate profile and photo of Diaz-Canel, who took office in April in a historic transition of power on the Caribbean island, succeeding Raul Castro, who took over from his elder brother Fidel, father of the 1959 revolution.
No further details were given on the itinerary of his visit.
Fidel Castro visited North Korea in 1986 to meet founder-leader Kim Il-Sung, and Pyongyang held three days of official mourning when Castro died in November 2016.
North Korea sent a delegation led by Choe Ryong-Hae, a senior aide to its leader Kim Jong Un, to Havana for Castro’s funeral.
Cuba in the past has flouted international sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme.
In 2013 Panama seized a North Korean ship carrying an undeclared Cuban arms shipment of Soviet-era weapons and fighter jets hidden under sacks of sugar.
North Korea insisted the weapons were being shipped for repair, prior to their return.
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