Report: North Korea wants to help Syria rebuild

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria's state news agency says a visiting North Korea delegation has expressed interest in helping Damascus with reconstruction efforts.

SANA said North Korea's vice foreign minister, Pak Myong Guk, was in Damascus on Wednesday. He was expected to later travel to Iran.

Syria and North Korea are longtime allies.

Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad stressed the need for stronger bilateral cooperation in the face of western economic sanctions.

The war in Syria since 2011 has devastated the country and billions of dollars are believed needed to rebuild. But Damascus is facing European and U.S. sanctions because of the war.

North Korea is seeking to expand its commercial ties to reduce its reliance on China.

North Korea said last year it is expecting a visit by the Syrian President.

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