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N. Korea, Belarus agree to strengthen cooperation, high-level contacts

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : April 19, 2024 - 13:09

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Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Evgeny Shestakov (left) shakes hands with a North Korean official after arriving in Pyongyang on Tuesday, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency the following day. (Yonhap) Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Evgeny Shestakov (left) shakes hands with a North Korean official after arriving in Pyongyang on Tuesday, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency the following day. (Yonhap)

The vice foreign ministers of North Korea and Belarus, both key allies to Russia, agreed Thursday to strengthen high-level contacts and cooperation across various sectors, encompassing the economy and cultures, as well as on global affairs, North Korean state media reported on Friday.

The bilateral talks in Pyongyang between North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Im Chon-il and his Belarusian counterpart took place amid closer alignment with Russia and their provision of support in its war against Ukraine.

“During the talks. both parties agreed to strengthen high-level contacts and exchanges in accordance with the demands of the changing times,” North Korean state media said in a Korean dispatch.

"They also agreed to further expand and develop the traditionally friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries by actively promoting cooperation in the economic and cultural fields, closely supporting each other, and coordinating on the international stage."

The two sides also "exchanged views on regional and international issues that are of mutual interest," according to the media report.

Belarus has given Russia a significant strategic advantage by hosting Russian tactical weapons and allowing Russian forces to operate and project power from its territory.

North Korea has supplied weapons, including ballistic missiles and munitions, to Russia for use against Ukraine.

Their support for Russia has further isolated them from the international community.

The meeting garnered attention, especially considering that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had previously proposed "exploring three-way cooperation" among Belarus, Russia, and North Korea during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 15 last year. The meeting occurred just two days after Putin's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the Far East.

The vice-ministerial meeting occurred several months after the meeting between Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik and North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Son-gong on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Uganda in January. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said that both sides discussed enhancing bilateral cooperation.