N. Korea, Belarus agree to strengthen high-level exchanges

North Korea and Belarus have agreed to strengthen high-level exchanges during talks between their senior diplomats, state media reported Friday, as both nations are seeking to deepen bilateral ties. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Im Chon-il and Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Evgeny Shestakov held talks Thursday in Pyongyang, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Shestakov arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday. "In line with demand in the changing era, they agreed to strengthen high-level contacts and visits by each other, as well as activate cooperation in the economic and cultural sectors," the KCNA said. "They also decided to support and cooperate each other on the international arena so as to expand and develop friendly ties between the two nations," the report said. The agreement is expected to prompt North Korea to send its ranking officials to Belarus for high-level exchanges. The secretive nation may also dispatch its workers to Minsk to earn hard currency. Belarus is among the co untries to which North Korea has sent its workers in the past in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions against the North's nuclear and missile programs. Shestakov's trip came amid North Korea's deepening cooperation with Russia, spawning speculation that it could be aimed at strengthening ties among the three nations. Belarus has been supportive of Russia over its war against Ukraine. North Korea is suspected of having supplied arms to Russia for the war while seeking technological assistance from Moscow for Pyongyang's weapons programs. In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed three-way cooperation involving Moscow, Minsk and Pyongyang. Source: Yonhap News Agency