Syrian State media have played up supportive comments by North Korea’s Parliamentary Speaker, Kim Yong-Nam, about Damascus’ battle to repel a “fierce imperialist campaign”.
In a meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi on Sunday in Iran, Kim spoke of the Assad regime and Pyongyang “facing the same enemy that seeks to destabilize the two countries to break the will to live and prosper, and to rob their riches” and ‘the sound leadership of President Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-un”.
But the real story is buried in the last paragraph: “The two sides discussed means to promote trade, economic, industrial and development ties between Syria and Democratic Korea.”
SANA notes that the two countries, as well as “bolstering cooperation and coordination… to confront the US and Israel and thwart their criminal schemes”, were ‘enhancing mutual relations, especially in trade, industry, electricity, and medicine”.
That last word catches the eye. It offers further information about where Damascus, facking shortages of medical supplies, is obtaining aid. Last week, Iran announced that it would provide medicines and equipment, including dialysis machines, to Syria —- a curious pledge given Iran’s claims that it is suffering from its own medical crisis because of international sanctions.
Now it appears that North Korea, which also faces serious issues over its provision of health care, is in the same position of medical saviour to the Assad regime.