Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong (a.k.a. Ri Chol) met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on 18 June (Wednesday). The meeting was attended by civilian and military members of Ri’s delegation, DPRK Ambassador to Syria Jang Myong Ho, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad and Director of the Asia Department of the Syrian Foreign Ministry Nadra Assaf. According to SANA, the meeting “touched on means to boost the standing cooperation between Syria and the DPRK in various fields, particularly those pertaining to economic development and the reconstruction process.”
According to SANA, Ri Su Yong remarked that “that the great achievements made by the Syrian people in their war against terrorist, their success in holding the presidential elections, and the massive turnout in them despite some foreign forces and sides attempting fervently to hinder it, have delivered a severe blow to the plots of these forces which seek to undermine Syria’s unity and its important role on the regional arena” and said “many nations around the world stand alongside the Syrian people and support their steadfastness in the face of the multi-faceted war they are confronting, but in many cases they don’t express this openly due to the pressure being exerted by the forces opposing Syria, particularly the United States.”
Bashar al-Assad said that “that the west is employing various methods in an attempt to weaken and divide countries that don’t submit to its will and subjugate them, noting that in the past, the west used hireling governments to implement its plans, and today terrorist groups are filling this role, but the rallying of people to protect their homeland and independence should be sufficient to thwart them” and President al-Assad “stressed that the west and other countries that support extremism and terrorism in Syria and in the region should learn from the example of past experiences and realize that the threats resulting from the growth of terrorism will cross the region’s countries and reach the entire world, particularly the states that harbor and support it,” according to SANA.
According to KCNA, al-Assad said “the friendly relations between the two countries provided by President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) together with President Hafez Al-Assad are the comradely relations with a long history and tradition.” He also noted that “Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) sent high-level delegations one after another before and after the presidential election in Syria” which “greatly supported and encouraged the just cause of the Syrian people.” President al-Assad, according to KCNA, also said that “the Syrian government and people will as ever extend firm support and solidarity to the government and people of the DPRK in their struggle to defend the sovereignty of the country, reunify the country and build a thriving nation” and that “Syria is greatly encouraged by the Korean people struggling, rallied close around the leader, the president said, expressing belief that Korea will be reunified in the near future under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.”
Ri Su Yong and the DPRK delegation arrived in Syria via the Jdaidet Yabous border crossing on 17 January (Tuesday). After his arrival and referring to Syria’s recent presidential elections Ri said that the “the trust which was expressed by the Syrian people in President Bashar al-Assad has dealt a very big blow to the common enemies of the two countries… these achievements which are made by the Syrian people amidst this fierce attack by the enemies are expression of absolute confidence in President al-Assad,” according to SANA, and he ” added that his visit to Syria today is to share the friendly people of Syria their happiness after making all these great achievements and to encourage their just struggle.”
During the visit, Ri Su Yong and the DPRK delegation also met with Speaker of the People’s Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham and Syrian Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halaqi. According to SANA Dr. al-Halqi remarked that “that Syria and Democratic Korea have been standing up to the US, imperialism, and Zionism for decades, facing attempts to control them, destabilize them, and interfere in their internal affairs” and that the “will to live and steadfastness of the two countries’ people, their ability to achieve self-sufficiency, and the help of their friends managed to reign in their enemies.” Ri Su Yong said that the DPRK is “committed to expanding cooperation with Syria, lauding the steadfastness of the Syrian people in the face of the barbaric war targeting it.” The meeting also addressed “bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, development, commerce, culture, technology, science, and medicine.”