North Korea Reaches Out to Russia, Assad Regime amid U.S. Talks Speculation

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees North Korean leader Kim Jong Un off following their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 25, 2019. (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty …

North Korea reportedly held talks with Russia and Syria this weekend amid renewed speculation that its regime is ready to go back to the negotiating table with the United States.

A delegation for the Assad regime in Syria, led by Deputy Prime Minister Walid Muallem, arrived in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Friday for bilateral talks.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) later confirmed that the two sides discussed “various aspects of the bilateral relations and means of enhancing them in all fields.” They also talked about “developments in the Middle East and East Asia, as well as issues of mutual interest on the regional and international arenas.”

Syria and North Korea have held close diplomatic relations since the 1960s, maintaining embassies in both their respective capitals. Last year, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad personally announced that the two countries were developing “solid and deep-rooted foundations of friendship and cooperation.”

North Korea also sent its vice foreign minister Im Chon Il to Moscow on Saturday to attend “vice minister-level negotiations between the DPRK and Russian foreign ministries.” Further details of the visit have yet to be released, although it is believed that they are the highest-level foreign ministry talks between the two countries since Kim Jong-un traveled to Russia to meet in Vladimir Putin in April.

Russia has long been a vital ally of the North Korean regime, providing crucial economic and diplomatic support since the days of the Soviet Union and the end of the Korean War in 1953. In recent years, Moscow has vehemently opposed all economic sanctions against the communist regime, allegedly illegally shipping products such as coal into the country to help reduce its widespread lack of energy resources.

North Korea’s flurry of diplomatic activity comes as state media confirmed that Kim Jong-un had received an “excellent” letter from President Donald Trump, sparking speculation that the two leaders may return to the negotiating table to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” reported the Korean Central News Agency. “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content.”

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