Syria’s Assad hopes to visit North Korea

SEOUL: Syrian President Bashar al Assad would like to visit North Korea to meet its leader, Kim Jong Un, according to a state media report. The Syrian president expressed his wish during the reception of a letter of credence from the North Korean ambassador on May 30 in Damascus, North Korean state-run news agency KCNA reported on Sunday. Whether or not Al Assad has already planned a concrete trip to Pyongyang wasn’t immediately clear. The East Asian state has been largely isolated for decades due to its rogue nuclear and missile programmes. But North Korea has been warming up ties to South Korea and major global powers after years of international condemnation.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump said he plans to meet Kim in Singapore on June 12. Washington has demanded the secretive country give up its nuclear weapons, while Pyongyang wants relief from crippling economic sanctions imposed on it due to the nuclear and missile programmes. KCNA reported Al Assad as saying that he was certain that Kim would win the final victory in the dispute and reunite Korea. North and South Korea are technically still at war despite the 1953 Korean War Armistice, since no peace treaty was signed, but have held several rounds of talks in recent months. — DPA