Cuban President confirms new North Korean ambassador in Havana ceremony

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Wednesday accepted the credentials of incoming North Korean ambassador Ma Chol Su in a ceremony in Havana, local state news outlet Prensa Latina reported.

Ma, who was appointed to the position of ambassador to Cuba by the DPRK’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly last month, replaces Pak Chang Yul.

The new ambassador begins work just weeks after a landmark summit between the two countries earlier in the month – the first of its kind in over 30 years.

That meeting saw the Cuban President and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un reaffirm the two countries’ “special friendship” and agree to expand scientific and economic cooperation.

Ma has extensive experience in working with North Korea’s longtime allies and as a liaison between Pyongyang and other sympathetic nations and individuals.

2017 saw Ma visit Cambodia in his capacity as a Workers’ Party official responsible for international affairs, where he met with Prince Norodom Ranariddh and discussed building ties between their two political parties.

An ambassador to Vietnam from 2006-10, he most recently served as Secretary-General of the DPRK-Japan Friendship Association, overseeing sports exchanges between the two countries and a visit in 2014 by former professional wrestler and current member of Japan’s House of Councillors Antonio Inoki.

His appointment as ambassador sees him take over responsibility for one of North Korea’s most important diplomatic relationships, with the embassy in Havana reportedly critical in conducting arms deals and other illicit transactions between the two, including in the now-notorious Chong Chon Gang incident.

It also comes as Pyongyang seeks to improve ties in the region, with the country’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam set to visit the region this week.

North Korean state media on Sunday reported that Kim, who serves as President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, would soon pay an official visit to Cuba and to Venezuela, as well as attend the inauguration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Saturday.

Kim was spotted by South Korean press at Beijing Capital Airport on Tuesday, presumed to en route to Latin America.

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Senior N. Korean ruling party official departs for Cuba

A senior official of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party departed Tuesday for Cuba, Pyongyang's state media reported without elaborating on the purpose of his trip.

Ri Su-yong, a vice chairman of the ruling party's Central Committee, is leading the North's delegation, the Korean Central News Agency said.

Ri was spotted at an airport in Moscow en route to Cuba. A diplomatic source said that Ri would visit from Thursday to next Monday. Details about his itinerary in Russia were not known.

Ri's trip came after Miguel Diaz-Canel was elected the island nation's new president in April to succeed Raul Castro, who took over the presidency in 2006.

Observers said that Ri's visit appears intended to celebrate the launch of the new Cuban leadership and strengthen party-to-party exchanges.

Shortly after Diaz-Canel's election, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a congratulatory message to the newly elected leader, who later sent a reply voicing his desire to deepen bilateral ties.

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Cuba, Saudi Arabia Strengthen Friendship and Cooperation Ties

Cuba and Saudi Arabia are showing today a progress in their friendship and cooperation ties with the recent visit to the Caribbean island of Arabian Foreign Minister, Adel al Jubeir.

Al Jubeir and President Raul Castro highlighted yesterday the positive level of relations between the two countries and expressed the will to continue developing them.

Prior to this meeting, Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, received the visitor at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he highlighted Cuba and Saudi Arabia's interest to strengthen ties.

His visit, the first of a Saudi foreign minister to Havana, will surely contribute to develop such ties, Rodriguez told reporters.

He also affirmed that the Cuban government appreciates the cooperation projects together with the Saudi Fund for Development and reiterated the Caribbean nation's support to the just causes of the Arab peoples, particularly the Palestinian people.

The Saudi foreign minister advocated for working to increase investments and collaboration in different fields between Havana and Riyadh.

Cuban Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Economy and Planning, Ricardo Cabrisas, also received Al Jubeir yesterday.

In recent years, Cuba and Saudi Arabia have taken steps to strengthen their relations, including the signing of agreements on economic matters.

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Foreign May Day Guests Pay Tribute to Cuban Patriot

The foreign guests who will participate in this year''s May Day parade at the Jose Marti Revolution Square in Havana, will today visit the Cuban province of Artemisa to pay tribute to the patriot Julio Antonio Mella.

The ceremony will begin with the laying of a wreath at the plaque that pays tribute to the prominent Cuban communist fighter at the International Camp that bears his name. The event is being attended by more than 200 activists from 34 countries.

The friends comprising the 11th contingent of May Day Solidarity Brigade will be welcomed there by local government authorities and the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

They will then carry out the planting of the "Tree of Friendship" and later will attend a lecture entitled "Cuba's Foreign Policy."

The visiting delegation consists of representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean (93), Europe (74), Africa (34), Middle East (34), Asia (20) and Oceania (20).

The brigade will carry out agricultural work, hold meetings with representatives of grass-roots organizations and visit the Mausoleum to the Martyrs of Artemis for the next fortnight.

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Obama: We are here to extend a hand of friendship

¨We are here to extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people, ¨ said Barack Obama, President of the United States, during a speech broadcasted live on Cuban TV from the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater of Havana.

The US president addressed the Cuban civil society with the presence of his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, along First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and several other Cuban top officials.

Obama started his speech by citing in perfect Spanish a verse of Cuba´s National Hero Jose Marti, ¨cultivo una rosa blanca¨ which he use to offer a peace greeting to Cubans.

We are here to bury the last vestige of the Cold War, of that era of conflicts between the US and Cuba, said Obama when acknowledging the contradictions between the two countries for over 50 years.

¨Our differences are real and important,¨ he said before listing the cultural values between shared by the two societies, and common points in History, religion and sports

We are like brothers that have been estranged for a long time though we share the same blood, he said.

It is time to lift the embargo, was his plead to the US Congress, because it is an obsolete burden to the Cuban people

He said that isolation policy doesn't make any sense in the 21st century, while adding that the US ¨doesn't have either the capacity or the intention to impose changes in Cuba¨

He encouraged Cubans to work hard, put their talents into it, to build a better future for their children. He added that broader access to internet will enable Cubans to take full advantage of the technological potential the web offers

We should not fear change, but embrace it, he said when stressing the importance of the process towards the normalization of relations between Cuba and the US, and reiterated his willingness to look into the future ¨with hope and respecting differences¨

He praised the quality of the health and education systems as well as the changes taking place in Cuba as part of its process of updating its economic model.

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Egypt Willing to Foster Relations with Cuba

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi expressed his best wishes and congratulations to the Cuban people and his willingness to support the expansion of bilateral relations with the island.

The message was conveyed to Cuban ambassador in Cairo Laureano Rodriguez by the vice-Great Chamberlain of the Republic Tareq Afifi, according to PL news agency.

The Cuban ambassador thanked the gesture of the Egyptian president and stressed the links of friendship beetween Egypt and Cuba. He also recalled the strong bonds of friendship between Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro and former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

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