North Korea wants closer ties with Turkey: MP

"We know that President Erdogan is [working] for the sake of [his] country," a North Koren lawmaker said, praising the Turkish President as a 'very independent statesman.'

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Pyongyang and Ankara could develop better relations said a North Korean lawmaker on a visit to Istanbul where he met with the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament on Sunday.

Kim Chung Song, a member of the DPRK's Supreme People’s Assembly, told Turkish state-funded Anadolu Agency that he was "very optimistic about the future relations between" Turkey and his country.

The North Korean MP's remarks come as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey finds itself increasingly alienated from Pyongyang's arch-enemy, the United States, and its other Western NATO allies, and more aligned with Russia as well as Iran, particularly on the Syrian war and defense issues.

"We know that President Erdogan is [working] for the sake of [his] country," Kim said, praising the Turkish President as a 'very independent statesman.'

He said he "personally" likes Erdogan's "independent policies," adding "all these good feelings and the commonality of foreign policy can be very solid foundations for future relations."

"There are many things in common between the independent foreign policy of Turkey and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," explained Kim, who is on an official trip for the 10th Asian Parliamentary Assembly held in Istanbul.

There was no press release from the Turkish side regarding the meeting.

Bilateral relations between Ankara and Pyongyang remain restricted although the two maintain ambassadorial diplomatic ties via their embassies in South Korea's Seoul and Bulgaria's Sofia respectively.

During the Korean War, the Turkish government at the time, without parliamentary approval, deployed over five thousand troops in 1950 to join the US-led UN forces in the South in the hope of becoming a NATO member and curb the Soviet Union's military and ideological threats from the north.

The US this week designated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, while President Donald Trump's administration continues to increase pressure through additional sanctions and military cooperation with Japan and South Korea against Kim Jong-Un's regime to get them to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Editing by Nadia Riva