Cuban diplomat visits Seoul for discussions on establishing embassy

By Park Ung Posted : May 14, 2024, 14:20 Updated : May 14, 2024, 14:58
Habana the capital city of Cuba AJU PRESS Park Ung
Havana, the capital city of Cuba. AJU PRESS Park Ung

SEOUL, May 14 (AJU PRESS) - South Korea is seeking to open a Cuban embassy here after agreeing to normalize diplomatic relations with the Caribbean country earlier this year. Discussions about the establishment of the embassy in Seoul are in progress as a Cuban diplomat arrived in Seoul over the weekend, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

Mario Alzugaray Rodriguez, the deputy head of mission of the Embassy of Cuba in China, met his South Korean counterparts to discuss the matter. "The two countries continue to communicate and cooperate each other to ensure the smooth opening of the embassy," a ministry official said.

Cuba severed ties with South Korea when Fidel Castro's communist regime came to power in 1959. Instead, it established diplomatic ties with North Korea the following year and has had a close relationship, driven by their mutual hostility toward the U.S.

Since Castro's death in 2008, South Korea and Cuba have seen increased mutual exchanges, leading to discussions on the resumption of diplomatic relations and finally reaching an agreement in New York in February this year.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, about 14,000 South Koreans visited Cuba annually, with the South Korean embassy in Mexico City handling consular affairs and other services for some 40 South Korean residents in Cuba. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) opened its office in Cuba in 2005, serving as a consulate for South Koreans there.

Meanwhile, Seoul's newly forged diplomatic ties with Havana seems to have had some impact on North Korea. The North's state media skipped mentioning the name of a foreign dignitary from its "brotherly" country in its coverage of the birth anniversary of its leader's late father Kim Jong-il in February. Many experts speculate that the omission could be interpreted as North Korea indirectly expressing its discomfort.
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