In a meeting with visiting North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Son on Sunday, Prince Norodom Ranariddh applauded the Stalinist state for coming in from the cold after a half-century of political isolation.
“We congratulate North Korea for its participation in regional affairs like Asean,” he said. “As a friend of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, I’m very happy with the political developments on the Korean peninsula.”
Later Sunday, the visiting dignitary met with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and apparently agreed to an exchange of trade missions.
“We have agreed there will be an exchange of economic and trade delegations in the future in order to strengthen…ties between our two countries,” Hor Namhong told reporters after the meeting, Agence France-Presse reported. No dates were given for the visits.
Paek arrived in Phnom Penh Saturday on the heels of his historic meeting with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the Asean Regional Forum in Bangkok. It was the first meeting between top US and North Korean officials in almost 50 years.
The North Korean has been followed by local and international media since coming to Cambodia but has declined to answer questions.
Also Sunday, Paek met with King Norodom Sihanouk, a longtime friend of Pyongyang who is credited with helping Asean in its bid to convince the foreign minister to attend the group’s ministerial meeting.
Cambodia is one of the few countries to have maintained full diplomatic ties with North Korea during the country’s seclusion. Paek’s visit here is seen as part of a broader campaign by North Korea to open up to the world.
Before his departure this morning, Paek is slated to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen and Senate President Chea Sim, the top two officials of the Cambodian People’s Party.
Foreign affairs officials declined to give details of what will be discussed at the meetings.