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Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin vow closer ties as they meet for the first time

Both leaders have met in Russia’s eastern city of Vladivostok, after Kim travelled by train from the North.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un
Image: Alexei Nikolsky via PA Images

NORTH KOREAN LEADER Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have vowed to seek closer ties as they met face-to-face for the first time today. 

Both leaders have met in Russia’s eastern city of Vladivostok, after Kim travelled by train from the North. 

In brief statements before heading in to the talks, both leaders expressed their hopes for strengthening historic ties.

“I think it will be a very useful meeting in developing the relationship between the two countries, who have a long friendship and history, into a more stable and sound one,” Kim said.

“As the world is focused on the Korean peninsula, I think we will hold a very meaningful dialogue.”

Putin told Kim he supports ongoing efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and wants to boost economic ties.

“I am confident that your visit… will help us to better understand how we can resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula and what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are currently taking place,” Putin said.

“In terms of bilateral relations, we have a lot to do to develop economic relations.”

This meeting was Kim’s first face-to-face talks with another head of state since returning from his February Hanoi summit with US President Donald Trump, which broke down without a deal on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. 

North Korean labourers

The fate of some 10,000 North Korean labourers working in Russia, who are due to leave by the end of this year under sanctions, is among the issues likely to be on the table during this week’s talks. 

Labour is one of North Korea’s major exports and source of cash. Pyongyang has reportedly asked Russia to continue to employ its workers after the deadline. 

For Putin, however, the summit is a chance to push Russia’s stance on opposing US international influence. 

In an interview with China’s official People’s Daily published today, Putin lashed out at “countries claiming sole global leadership”.

“They carelessly trample on the norms and principles of international law, resort to blackmail, sanctions and pressure, and try to force their values and dubious ideals on entire countries and populations,” Putin said.

This Vladivostok meeting follows repeated invitations from Putin since Kim embarked on a series of diplomatic overtures last year.

Since March 2018, the formerly reclusive North Korean leader has held four meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, two with Trump and one with Vietnam’s president.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019

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