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North Korea Says Syria’s Assad Will Visit With Kim

North Korea and Syria have long maintained warm ties, dating to the reign of Kim Il Sung, the North’s founding leader. The shipments reported by the United Nations were only the most recent example of apparent weapons cooperation between the two countries.

In 2007, Israeli warplanes struck a nuclear-related facility inside Syria that Israeli intelligence believed North Korea was helping to equip.

North Korea supported Syria during the Arab-Israeli War in October 1973, sending troops including pilots and missile personnel.

Analysts said that by announcing a prospective visit from Mr. Assad, North Korea risked raising Mr. Trump’s ire and prompting him to cancel the Singapore summit again.

“Assad’s trip could again derail the newly resurrected summit or, at the least, cast a dark shadow,” said Bruce Klingner, a Korea specialist at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “Of all the dictators in the world to meet, Kim had to pick the one that the U.S. has recently attacked and for which Trump has particular disdain.”

In remarks quoted by the Korean Central News Agency, Mr. Assad said “the Syrian government will as ever fully support all policies and measures of the D.P.R.K. leadership and invariably strengthen and develop the friendly ties with the D.P.R.K.”

Just before Mr. Trump canceled the summit two weeks ago, the North put out hostile statements toward the United States, apparently responding to hard-line comments made by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, who suggested that the precedent for negotiations with North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons should be Libya, which agreed to box up its entire nuclear program and ship it out of the country. North Korea rejected that model, noting that Libya and its leader were later destroyed by a NATO-backed coalition.

Source: NYT > World

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