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North Korean official visits Venezuela to deepen ties
Updated: 2005-09-29 10:46

Venezuela and North Korea are seeking stronger diplomatic ties as they move ahead with a plan to open embassies in Caracas and Pyongyang, the vice president of North Korea's parliament said Wednesday, AP reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister William Izarra received Yang Hyong Sop in Caracas and discussed the possibility of energy cooperation between Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, and North Korea.

"Opening embassies in our countries will create the possibility of further strengthening our relations," said Hyong Sop, according to a statement released by Venezuela's foreign ministry.

Since taking office in 1999, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reached out to establish ties with African and Asian countries while relations with the United States have grown tense.

Chavez, a self-proclaimed "revolutionary" with close ties to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, says his government is establishing what he calls "21st-century socialism" in this South American country.

Hyong Sop, who was in Cuba earlier Wednesday, applauded "the important achievements in the process of constructing 21st-century socialism" in Venezuela while the oil-rich country works toward the "economic and political integration of Latin America," the statement said.

North Korea's commerce minister plans to visit Venezuela in November to discuss trade, Hyong Sop said.

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