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Tehran: Drought-hit North Korea on Tuesday asked for humanitarian aid from its historic ally Iran, Iranian state media reported.

North Korean ambassador Kang Sam-hyon delivered a request to the Iranian Red Crescent for urgent humanitarian aid to combat what Pyongyang has termed its worst drought in 100 years, aggravating dire food shortages, state news agency IRNA said.

North Korea has suffered regular chronic food shortages — hundreds of thousands are believed to have died during a famine in the mid-to-late 1990s — with the situation exacerbated by floods, droughts and mismanagement.

Tehran and Pyongyang, allies since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the Western-backed shah, both face economic sanctions over their controversial nuclear programmes.

International food aid, especially from South Korea and the United States, has been drastically cut amid tensions over the communist state’s nuclear and missile programmes.

While political and economic ties have remained strong, Tehran says military cooperation halted with the end of the Iran-Iraq conflict in the 1980s.

But US officials suspect Iran’s ballistic missile programme was born on the back of North Korean technical assistance, according to leaked diplomatic cables dating back to 2010.

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