Friday, February 11, 2005

N. Korea voices support for Iran, sees closer ties

North Korea has sent a message of solidarity to Iran amid suspicions the reclusive communist state had boasted of having nuclear weapons to raise the stakes while U.S. attention is focused on Iran's nuclear programmes.

North Korea declared on Thursday for the first time it possessed nuclear weapons and pulled out indefinitely from six-party talks on its weapons programme, saying it needed a defence against a hostile United States.

The North's official news agency reported on Friday that two top officials had sent messages of congratulations to Tehran on the 26th anniversary of the Islamic Republic, which took power after the fall of the Shah's U.S.-backed government.

"The Iranian government and people have gained a great success in their work for defending the gains of the Islamic revolution and building independent and prosperous Iran, bravely shattering all sorts of trials and challenges in the past 26 years," said a message from the number two in North Korea's hierarchy, head of parliament Kim Yong-nam.

A second message from the North Korean prime ministrr, Pak Pong-ju, praised Iran's success in its work to defend its sovereignty.

"The friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would invariably grow stronger," the message said. ...