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North Korea's Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia for Putin summit

The talks will be Kim’s first face-to-face meeting with another head of state since his meeting with Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he leaves Khasan train station in Primorye region, Russia
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he leaves Khasan train station in Primorye region, Russia
Image: Primorsky Regional Administration Press Service via PA Images

NORTH KOREAN LEADER Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia for a first summit with President Vladimir Putin, as Pyongyang seeks support in its nuclear deadlock with the US. 

The talks, organised in secret and announced at the last minute, will be Kim’s first face-to-face meeting with another head of state since negotiations with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi collapsed in February.

Kim’s train arrived in the afternoon at the Tsarist-era train station in Vladivostok.

He stepped out onto a red carpet before making his way outside to be received by an honour guard. 

“I hope that this visit will be successful and useful,” Kim told Russian television in the Russian town of Khasan where his train crossed the border.

“I hope that during the talks… I will be able to have concrete discussions on resolving situations on the Korean Peninsula and on the development of our bilateral relationship,” Kim said.

Putin is due to arrive in Vladivostok tomorrow, then fly on after the talks for another summit in Beijing.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) earlier reported Kim’s departure by train, naming among his entourage foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.

North Korean flags flying

Russian and North Korean flags were already flying on lamp posts yesterday on Vladivostok’s Russky island, where the summit is expected to take place at a university campus. 

Kim plans to stay on in Vladivostok on Friday for a series of cultural events, including a ballet and a visit to the city’s aquarium, Russian media reported.

The talks follow repeated invitations from Putin since Kim embarked on his diplomatic overtures last year.

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

Hanoi summit

In Hanoi, the North demanded immediate relief from the sanctions imposed on it over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

However, the talks broke down in disagreement over what Pyongyang was prepared to give up in return.

North Korea last week launched an attack on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, insisting he be removed from the negotiations just hours after announcing it had carried out a new weapons test.

Moscow has already called for the sanctions to be eased, while the US has accused it of trying to help Pyongyang evade some of the measures – accusations Russia denies.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told a briefing yesterday: “The focus will be on a political and diplomatic solution to the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula.” 

“Russia intends to help consolidate positive trends in every way,” he said, but added that no joint statement or signing of agreements was planned.

© AFP 2019

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