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Mugabe Congratulates N. Korea on April Rocket Launch

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has congratulated North Korea on its rocket launch last month and expressed hopes for even warmer bilateral ties.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Mr. Mugabe made his remarks during a meeting Monday in Harare with Pyongyang's number two leader, Kim Yong Nam.

It said the two men discussed improving "long-standing relations of friendship and cooperation."

North Korea said it sent a satellite into orbit on April 5 as part of a peaceful space program. But the U.N. Security Council and much of the international community condemned the launch, which was widely seen as a test for a long-range missile.

Zimbabwe and North Korea, both of which have few friends internationally, have maintained strong ties for several decades.

In the early 1980s, the North helped train a Zimbabwean army brigade that allegedly committed widespread atrocities against Mr. Mugabe's opponents in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland region.

The U.S. military said no North Korean satellite entered orbit last month. It said part of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan, while the rest landed in the Pacific Ocean.

The rocket launch was considered a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution approved in 2006 forbidding North Korea from long-range ballistic missile tests.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.