Assad to become 'first leader to visit Kim Jong Un'

Assad to become 'first leader to visit Kim Jong Un'
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad will potentially become the first head of state to visit Kim Jong Un inside North Korea.
2 min read
03 June, 2018
Assad has been subject to global condemnation [Getty]
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he plans to visit North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang's state media reported on Sunday, potentially becoming the first head of state to meet Kim inside the isolated country.

"I am going to visit the DPRK and meet... Kim Jong Un," he said, the North's state-run KCNA news agency reported.

The announcement came as anticipation mounts for a historic nuclear summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, following a whirlwind round of diplomacy.

"The world welcomes the remarkable events in the Korean peninsula brought about recently by the outstanding political calibre and wise leadership of... Kim Jong Un," KCNA cited Assad as saying during a meeting with North Korean Ambassador Mun Jong Nam on Wednesday.

Pyongyang and Damascus have maintained warm ties for decades, with the isolated communist republic reportedly propping up the Assad regime with weapons in the seven-year deadly conflict.

Suspicions over chemical weapons trade between Pyongyang and Damascus have been raised in the past by the UN and South Korea.

There were also widespread reports that North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear plant that was destroyed by Israeli bombing in 2007.

Both regimes have been the target of international isolation -- Pyongyang over its banned nuclear programme and Damascus for atrocities committed during the civil war.

Since coming to power in 2011, Kim has not met another head of state in North Korea. He only made his first overseas trip as leader this year, travelling to China to meet President Xi Jinping, an ally of the reclusive regime.