Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he will visit North Korea

No date was given for his trip to Pyongyang to meet the regime of Kim Jong-un

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York, New York, U.S. April 24, 2019.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Powered by automated translation

Iran's foreign minister says he will visit North Korea as both countries struggle under US sanctions.

Iran's official IRNA news agency on Sunday quoted Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying that the visit is being planned and a date will be announced soon.

The United States has ramped up sanctions on Iran since US President Donald Trump withdrew from its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers last year. The US has tightened sanctions on North Korea to try to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons.

An Iranian parliamentary delegation visited North Korea in December, and North Korea's top diplomat, Ri Yong Ho, visited Iran in August.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has held two summits with US President Donald Trump, one in Singapore and the other in Vietnam. But relations have barely improved in that time.

After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin last week at their own summit, Mr Kim left indicating that he has cooled on the much-touted bid by Mr Trump to woo his country into a non-nuclear future.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim told Putin the US had adopted a "unilateral attitude in bad faith" at the Hanoi summit.

"Peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the US future attitude, and the DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation," Kim was quoted as saying.

Mr Putin backed the North's demand for "security guarantees" in its standoff with the United States over the nuclear capability, which Washington wants to see scrapped entirely, but Pyongyang fears would leave the country vulnerable.

Mr Trump has claimed that he and Kim have a special friendship and even "love".

But their second summit, held in Hanoi, broke down in late February without a deal, after cash-strapped Pyongyang demanded immediate relief from sanctions.

Russia has also called for the sanctions to be eased, while the US has accused Moscow of trying to help Pyongyang evade some of the measures.

In another setback just a week ago, Pyongyang demanded the removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from the stalled nuclear talks.