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North Korea strengthens ties with Cuba

November 17, 2017
Robert Valencia
Posted with permission from Newsweek
Pyongyang hopes to rekindle a Cold War-era friendship.

Korean Central News Agency announced Friday that North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and his delegation will be traveling to Cuba, in hopes of revamping international support amid sanctions and widespread condemnation of Pyongyang’s nuclear missile tests.

he Washington Post reported that North Korea’s visit to Cuba occurs as Pyongyang’s largest trading partners announced they would halt trade with the isolated nation. Singapore—North Korea’s seventh largest trading partner–announced it would sever its trade with the country Thursday, while the Philippines—Pyongyang’s fifth largest trading partner—is following suit.

Indeed, North Korea has witnessed mounting isolation from the international community, following its ongoing nuclear threats against the U.S. Last month, North Korea has issued a warning to Washington and the rest of the world about the possibility of testing a powerful hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, CNN reported. The country has pledged to turn the U.S. into a “ sea of fire” if attacked, as the Kim Jong Un regime has tested an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

Other countries, such as Sudan, announced Friday that it will cut trade and military ties with North Korea, in what appears to be a “significant victory” for the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate the totalitarian nation, The Times of Israel reported. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson encouraged other African nations to cut ties with North Korea, during a meeting with African foreign ministers at the State Department on Friday.

In September, Egypt, Uganda, Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait and Spain expelled North Korean diplomats following the country’s sixth nuclear test at the time, Reuters reported.

North Korea’s reach to Havana may not stem from economic reasons—Cuba is not part of Pyongyang’s top 10 trading partners, the Post reported. Instead, the connection might as well have to do with the diplomatic tensions both nations have with the United States and how they can advance bilateral cooperation amid sanctions and isolation. On November 8, the Trump administration announced a crackdown on U.S. travel and business with Cuba, rolling back a landmark Obama-era policy, USA Today reported.

Meanwhile, Trump signed an executive order that widened U.S. sanctions on North Korea last September. The move suggested that the White House was intent on saddling Pyongyang with more economic sanctions that would kick the regime out of the international banking system while targeting the country’s major industries and shipping, The New York Times reported.

Date: 2017-11-19 18:51:25

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