Seoul hails US-Cuba agreement to restore diplomatic ties

December 18, 2014
Noh Kwang-il, spokesman for the foreign ministry (Yonhap)

Noh Kwang-il, spokesman for the foreign ministry (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea expressed hopes Thursday that an agreement between the United States and Cuba to restore their diplomatic ties could help create an atmosphere that leads to an improvement in Seoul-Havana relations.

In a surprise move, the U.S. and Cuba announced the agreement Wednesday to restore their diplomatic relations that were severed in 1961. The two countries have harbored ideological animosity toward one another since Fidel Castro seized power through the 1959 revolution and chose to walk on a leftist path as an ally for the former Soviet Union.

Seoul’s foreign ministry said it welcomed the decision, calling it an “important progress” for the relationship between Washington and Havana. South Korea has no diplomatic relations with Cuba while North Korea has maintained ties with Havana.

“The Korean government is seeking to normalize its relations or promote cooperation with all countries beyond ideology and the (political) system. In that sense, Seoul is making efforts to improve its ties with Cuba,” foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said in a regular press briefing.

“We hope that the agreement between the U.S. and Cuba will positively help set the stage for the improvement in relations between South Korea and Cuba.”

Noh called on North Korea to choose a path of reforms and liberalization by abandoning its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

“Countries that had opted for isolation are now making efforts to join the international community (as responsible members),” he added. “Given this situation, North Korea should swiftly resolve its nuke and missile problems and choose such a path to return to the global community.”