December 4, 2018 / 11:48 AM / 9 days ago

North Korean and Syrian foreign ministers meet in Damascus

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria and North Korea’s foreign ministers met in Damascus on Tuesday, officials said, and thanked each other for their support during years of international isolation.

North Korea’s Ri Yong Ho thanked Walid al-Moualem for Syria’s opposition to economic sanctions on Pyongyang, according to Syria’s foreign ministry. Moualem said Syria was grateful for North Korea’s support in international forums.

United Nations monitors say the relationship has gone deeper than diplomacy and accused North Korea in February of cooperating with Syria on chemical weapons - a charge North Korea denied.

Israel in 2007 bombed a suspected nuclear reactor in eastern Syria which it said was being constructed with help from North Korea and had been months away from activation.

Syria, a signatory of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has always denied that the site was a reactor or that Damascus engaged in nuclear cooperation with North Korea.

Both countries have faced international isolation, North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, and Syria over its nearly eight-year-old civil war.

A Syrian parliamentary delegation visited North Korea in October.

Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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