Korean Council on Latin America pledges support for opening of Cuban Embassy in Seoul

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : May 20, 2024, 16:06 Updated : May 20, 2024, 17:52
KCLACs official Facebook page
This photo from the Facebook page of the Korean Council on Latin America and the Caribbean (KCLAC) shows Han Byung-kil (right), KCLAC chairman, and Mario Alzugaray Rodriguez, deputy head of mission of the Embassy of Cuba in China, during their meeting in Seoul on May 16, 2024. Courtesy of KCLAC.
SEOUL, May 20 (AJU PRESS) – Han Byung-kil, chairman of the Korean Council on Latin America and the Caribbean (KCLAC), has pledged support for an early opening of the Cuban Embassy in Seoul during his meeting with a visiting senior Cuban diplomat.

Han met with Mario Alzugaray Rodriguez, deputy head of mission of the Cuban Embassy in China, in Seoul on Thursday, and discussed measures to promote cooperation between the two countries, the non-profit organization said.

Alzugaray arrived in Seoul on May 12 for talks on the planned establishment of a Cuban diplomatic mission here. South Korea and Cuba normalized diplomatic relations in February and agreed in April to open embassies in each other's countries.

During the meeting, Han expressed KCLAC's commitment to facilitating the swift establishment of the Cuban Embassy. They also discussed official development assistance (ODA) cooperation and other measures to enhance the bilateral relationship.

Founded in 1996, KCLAC aims to promote South Korea's exchanges with Latin American and Caribbean countries. Han, former ambassador to Peru and Argentina, has led the council since 2022.

The two countries severed ties after the socialist revolution occurred in Cuba in 1959, and Havana initiated relations with North Korea in 1960.

Their relations slowly improved in the 2000s and a South Korean foreign minister visited Cuba for the first time in 2016.

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, around 14,000 South Koreans visited Cuba annually. In 2005, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) opened an office in Cuba, which also serves as a consulate for South Koreans.

The normalization between the two countries appears to be a diplomatic blow to Pyongyang. In February, the North's state media skipped mentioning the name of a foreign dignitary from Cuba, its "brotherly" country, in its coverage of the birth anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il. 
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