North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a message of condolences to Cuba over the death of former leader Fidel Castro, highlighting the two nations’ long-standing ties, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Sunday.
Castro died Friday in Havana at the age of 90.
Cuba, which established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1960 and maintains an embassy in Havana, has long been known as one of Pyongyang’s most dependable allies. Separated by distance and culture, the two countries found common ground in their distaste for what they called America’s “imperialist” foreign policy.
In his letter sent to Raul Castro, the current Cuban leader and brother of the deceased former president, Kim called Fidel Castro a “close friend and comrade of the Korean people” who “extended firm support and encouragement to our efforts for national reunification.”
“Though he passed away, the precious feats he performed will remain forever in the hearts of the peoples of our two countries and the hearts of progressive mankind,” Kim was quoted by KCNA as saying in the letter.
Ties between the two countries made news in July 2013, when Panama Canal authorities discovered 240 metric tons of weapons — including fighter jets and missiles — hidden under a sugar shipment aboard a ship that had sailed from Cuba and was bound for North Korea.
The Singapore-based Chinpo Shipping Co. was fined 180,000 Singapore dollars ($125,700) in January for facilitating the shipment of arms from Cuba to North Korea. A court found in December 2015 that Chinpo Shipping was in breach of United Nations sanctions on North Korea.
North Korea has defied a raft of similar sanctions in its bid to master the technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile capable of hitting the continental United states. The hermit nation, which has conducted two atomic tests and more than 20 missile launches this year, has been called one of the top threats facing the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
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