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North Korean Military Makes Rare Visit

In this photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo, North Koreans visit the statue of President Kim Il Sung on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang, North Korea, to pay respects to the late founder of their country during the the Luna

A North Korean delegation of military officials are meeting with their Cambodian counterparts in Phnom Penh this week, officials said Tuesday.

Pak Jae-gyong, vice minister of North Korea’s armed forces, led nine other senior officials in meetings with defense officials, the prime minister, the king and others, said Chhum Socheath, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

This is only the second such high military delegation from North Korea since 1995, he said.

“Importantly, he came to visit Cambodia to strengthen friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries,” he said. “His visit aims to share views and experiences in the national defense sector.”

The delegation visited engineering schools of the Cambodian military, but made no pledges of aid, he said.

Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, called the visit of little major interest except to strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“I think for Cambodia’s national defense, we might not look at the interest from North Korea, because North Korea in international opinion and understanding is [viewed] more negative,” he said.

Lao Monghay, a former researcher for the Asian Human Rights Commission, said Cambodia should engage with many countries, including North Korea, to keep the singular influence of any one country limited.

North Korean senior military delegation firstly visited Cambodia in 1995 and this visit is secondly since 1995.