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(LEAD) Cuban leader given enthusiastic welcome in Pyongyang, vows to further boost ties with N. Korea

All Headlines 16:11 November 05, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES photos; ADDS 10th para)

SEOUL, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held summit talks with visiting Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Pyongyang on Sunday, and they expressed "full support and solidarity" with each other, the North's media reported Monday.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim and Diaz-Canel discussed the issue of further expanding and developing cooperation and exchanges in various fields, including the economy, culture, public health, science and technology, during their talks at the Paekhwawon State Guest House Sunday afternoon.

The Nov. 5 issue of North Korea's Rodong Sinmun plays up Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's arrival in Pyongyang the previous day on the front page. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Kim was quoted as saying that the current visit by the Cuban delegation would offer an occasion for demonstrating the invincibility of the traditional fellowship, trust, friendship and solidarity of the peoples of the two countries and serve as a manifestation of support and solidarity to the Korean people's just cause.

In response, the Cuban president said that he was deeply moved to receive warm hospitality and an enthusiastic welcome from Kim and the North's government and citizens. He also said that the Cuban party, government and people were pleased to see the Korean people invariably advancing along the road chosen by themselves and making rapid development under Kim's leadership.

The two leaders also held an in-depth exchange of views on the crucial issues of common concern and on the international situation, and a consensus of views on all issues was reached at the talks, the KCNA noted.

A photo run by the Rodong Sinmun on Nov. 5, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in a car parade in the center of Pyongyang the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Then they expressed their firm will to further expand and strengthen the strategic and comradely relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries in line with the requirements of the new era in the future, it said.

In a rare move, Kim personally greeted Diaz-Canel at Pyongyang's airport at around 1 p.m. Sunday, as the Cuban leader arrived in North Korea from Russia on his first overseas trip since his inauguration in April.

All of the North's top government and party officials, including titular head of state Kim Yong-nam, were also on hand at the airport welcome ceremony.

Just like when South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the North Korean capital in September, the North's regime also treated the Cuban leader to a welcome performance, a banquet and a car parade through Pyongyang's Ryomyong Street to the Paekhwawon State Guest House.

The eight-page Monday issue of the North's official newspaper Rodong Sinmun played up the Cuban leader's visit and talks with Kim on the front page and four other pages. The newspaper also ran 40 photos of Diaz-Canel's visit to Pyongyang.

Watchers speculate that North Korea and Cuba appear to be trying to send a joint message to the United States amid protracted denuclearization talks and a recent strain in bilateral ties between the U.S. and Cuba.

"Both North Korea and Cuba want to repair their relationship with the United States. But the circumstances are not favorable. The two countries seem to reveal their intent to toughen their diplomatic offensive on the U.S. by strengthening their bonds," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.

"Pyongyang appears to have an intention to strengthen diplomacy with countries that can side with it in negotiations with the U.S.," he speculated.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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