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NK leader sends condolences to Castro over hurricane damages

2017/09/13 17:11

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SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a message of sympathy to his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro over the recent human and property damage inflicted on the country by Hurricane Irma, a North Korean newspaper reported Wednesday.

"Receiving the news of the causalities and losses of many materials caused by the recent hurricane in the eastern and central areas of your country, I extend deep consolation and sympathy to you and, through you, to the Cuban government, people and residents in the afflicted areas," Kim said in the message sent to Castro Tuesday. The Rodong Sinmun, a daily of the ruling Workers' Party, carried it on its front page.

North Korea experts here said, however, that the message was somewhat a departure from the North's common practice, in which its titular leader Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, has sent congratulatory or condolence messages to foreign leaders.

"Kim's message seems to have taken the importance of the North's diplomacy with Cuba into consideration as its diplomatic isolation in the Central and South Americas deepens in the wake of its sixth nuclear test, such as the recent expulsion of its ambassadors from Mexico and Peru," Chang Cheol-woon, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said.

It's the third time that Kim has sent a message of condolence to a foreign leader in his name, following one to Castro over hurricane damages in October 2012 and another one to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad over the death of his mother in February last year.