Syrian and North Korean officials vowed to maintain good relations with each other Monday during a ceremony that saw Syrian officials pay tribute to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's family. Kim Il Sung park and a street by the same name were officially inaugurated Monday in an affluent neighborhood of Damascus, the capital of war-torn Syria, during the ceremony, which also commemorated the formation of the Workers' Party of Korea, the ruling political party of North Korea. Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un, was the president of North Korea for nearly 25 years.
Officials from the Baath Party, which rules Syria, the North Korean Embassy, and the Syrian-Korean Friendship Association attended the event. They emphasized the two countries' friendship and mutual support, media reports said.
Jang Myong Ho, Pyongyang's ambassador to Damascus, called Syria's civil war a result of conspiracies fostered by the United States and its puppets. Jang expressed "confidence that the Syrian Arab Army will emerge victorious," while Fayssal Mikdad, the Syrian deputy foreign minister, called relations between the two countries strong and praised "the DPRK's [North Korea's] support for Syria in the face of terrorism."
Syria is embroiled in a four-year conflict in which forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been accused of targeting civilians with chemical weapons attacks, barrel bombs and other atrocities, in a constantly shifting civil war that includes militant extremists, like the Islamic State group, Jabhat al-Nusra, anti-government rebels and Kurdish forces.
North Korea, a nation that has isolated itself for decades socially and, to a degree, economically, is viewed as secretive and unpredictable by the West. Escalating tension between North and South Korea nearly led to a military confrontation earlier this month before leaders met to stave off possible military action in a dispute over South Korea's use of loudspeakers to blast anti-North Korean propaganda over their shared border.
— Qais Fares (@qais_fares) August 31, 2015
Photos from the event Monday in Damascus showed women wearing what appeared to be traditional Korean garb, as well as a band of musicians playing trumpets, flutes and other brass instruments.