With President Obama’s ongoing visit to Cuba and his recently concluded nuclear deal with Iran, people are wondering if there is an Obama-led rapprochement with the DPRK coming before the lame duck president leaves office later this year.
After the conclusion of the Iran Deal, Obama said he was open to talks with North Korea on sanctions, with the usual preconditions. The DPRK rejected that statement, but they may still see in Obama a president willing to abandon the US’s usual precondition demands that North Korea take steps to abandon its nuclear program. Huge concessions given to Iran (and China in the US-China climate agreement) would seem to justify this view.
So, as Obama tours Cuba, Pyongyang is no doubt watching very closely, and in the weeks and days leading up to Obama’s Cuba visit, DPRK media have been showcasing DPRK-Cuban relations in what is perhaps a subtle “me too!” gesture.
On March 9 “a meeting was held at the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Fidel Castro Ruz’s visit to the DPRK. Present there on invitation were ambassador Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo and staff members of the Cuban embassy in the DPRK” KCNA reported.
Kim Sung Du, chairman of the Educational Commission and chairman of the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba “said in a speech that Fidel Castro Ruz’s visit to the DPRK was an important occasion that strikingly demonstrated the firm will of the parties and the peoples of the two countries to carry on the struggle for the victory of the socialist cause under the uplifted banner of independence against imperialism.
“He stressed that the Korean people will regard the Cuban people as the brothers and sisters of the same class and comrades-in-arms standing together on the forefront of the struggle against the imperialists and the US and will make all efforts to boost the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.”
That, or, trying to woo the imperialists into injecting some much needed capital into their economies.
On March 14 Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK met with “a delegation of the Centre of the Cuban Workers headed by General Secretary Ulises Guilarte De Nacimiento, who paid a courtesy call on him, at the Mansudae Assembly Hall.”
The following day was the annual meeting of the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba “attended by Kim Sung Du, chairman of the Education Commission who doubles as chairman of the above-said committee, So Ho Won, vice-chairman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, members of the solidarity committee, Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo, Cuban ambassador to the DPRK, and staff members of his embassy.”
According to KCNA, “The meeting reviewed last year’s work of the committee and discussed this year’s action program.”
One can’t help but wonder if as Pyongyang watches Havana and Tehran opening to Washington, there is a case of “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” going on.