North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un sent a letter and exchanged “wholehearted greetings” with Cuban leader Raúl Castro as the regime seeks to bolster relations with its traditional communist allies, state media announced on Monday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Workers’ Party of Korea Vice Chairman Ri Su-yong’ met with first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Raúl Castro on July 5th for bilateral talks in Havana.
“Ri courteously conveyed the warm greetings and verbal personal letter [sic] sent by Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, to Raul Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba,” according to the KCNA.
“Raul Castro Ruz expressed deep thanks for this and asked Ri Su-yong to convey his most wholehearted greetings to Kim Jong Un. The talk took place in a friendly atmosphere,” the report continued.
The meeting is another sign of North Korea’s eagerness to promote relations with its communist and left-wing allies while also extending ties to the free world, or at least appearing to do so.
Cuba and North Korea have been allies since the onset of the Cold War, where they forged a relationship based on anti-Americanism. Late dictator Fidel Castro visited Pyongyang in 1986, later describing Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung as “a veteran and irreproachable combatant [who] sent us 100,000 AK-47 rifles and its corresponding ammo without charging a cent.”
Following Fidel Castro’s death in 2016, the North Korean regime declared a three-day period of mourning and sent a delegation to his funeral. Kim Jong-un visited the Cuban embassy in Pyongyang to show his respects.
North Korea’s other prominent Latin American ally remains Nicolás Maduro, socialist dictator in Venezuela. In March, the country expressed its “firm support and solidarity” to Maduro in the run-up to a fraudulent election that saw Maduro “re-elected” for a further five years.
In the face of economic sanctions and political isolation, North Korea has also built up stronger ties to Syria’s Bashar-al Assad. In April, the North promised to provide “all sorts of support” for the Syrian Arab Army in the country’s ongoing civil war, while Assad has also vowed to develop “solid and deep-rooted foundations of friendship and cooperation” between the two countries.
Kim’s regime has also managed to develop ties with various Africa in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, where the regime has increased its diplomatic presence and allegedly involved itself in the ivory trade in a bid to gain hard foreign currency.