Iran says 'impediments' in way of closer ties with N Korea
Iran has told a visiting top official from fellow US foe North Korea that it wants to expand ties with Pyongyang (capital of N Korea) but that some "impediments" first have to be overcome, local media reported on Friday.
"The government of Dr (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad is interested in boosting ties with North Korea in the fields of politics, economy and culture," Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki told North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il.
"And it is necessary that by overcoming some impediments the ground for new cooperation is set," Mottaki was quoted by media during Thursday night's meeting with Kim Yong Il.
"One of those impediments is North Korea's debt to our country, however the two nations can find a formula to over come these barriers," he said, without elaborating.
He also added the Tehran supports ongoing talks between North and South Korea as "preliminary steps of uniting both Koreas."
Iran and North Korea signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to meet at deputy foreign minister level on an annual basis, the report said.
On Thursday, Iran's Vice President Parviz Davoudi said there was "no limit" to expanding ties with Pyongyang.
Iran and North Korea were both famously lumped by US President George W Bush into an "Axis of Evil", although Pyongyang has in recent weeks been holding talks with US officials on a nuclear disarmament programme.
North Korea's announcement of an atomic weapons test in October last year prompted Tehran to state that it wanted a "world free of nuclear weapons" although it did not explicitly condemn the move.
North Korea has robust ties with Iran and its officials are occasional visitors to the Islamic republic. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited Pyongyang when he was president in May 1989.
North Korea has denied reports that it has been lending assistance to Tehran for its nuclear programme.