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Putin to visit North Korea for first time in 24 years

Putin to visit North Korea for first time in 24 years
Putin to visit North Korea for first time in 24 years

 


Russian President Vladimir Putin praised North Korea for its “strong support” for Moscow's war in Ukraine, ahead of his first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years.

Mr Putin is expected to arrive in the capital on Tuesday to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two leaders last met in September at the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia's far east, but this is Mr Putin's first visit to Pyongyang since 2000.

In a letter published in North Korean state media, Mr. Putin promised to build trade and security systems with Pyongyang “that are not controlled by the West.”

President Putin also promised to support Pyongyang's efforts to defend its interests despite what he called “US pressure, blackmail and military threats”, in the article published in Rodong Sinmun, the spokesperson for the ruling party in North Korea.

He said the two countries would continue to resolutely oppose what he described as Western ambitions aimed at hindering the establishment of a multipolarized world order based on mutual respect for justice.

The United States expressed concern about “the deepening relations between these two countries.”

The Kremlin described the event as a friendly state visit, with Russian media reporting that Mr. Putin and Mr. Kim could sign a partnership agreement, including on security issues, and would make joint statements to the media.

A parade in Kim Il Sung Square is planned. Mr. Putin is also expected to attend a concert and visit the Life-Giving Trinity Orthodox Church in Pyongyang, the only Orthodox church in North Korea.

Mr Putin is reportedly staying at the Kumsusan guesthouse in Pyongyang, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping last stayed during his state visit to North Korea in 2019.

Mr. Putin is expected to arrive with his new Minister of Defense, Andrei BelousovForeign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak will also be part of the delegation.

Mr Kim said last week that ties with Russia had “developed into an indissoluble relationship of comrades in arms”.

When they met last year, Mr Putin said he saw “possibilities” for military cooperation with North Korea, while Mr Kim wished the Russian president a “victory” in Ukraine.

The White House said the United States was concerned about growing ties between Russia and North Korea.

“We are not concerned about the trip” of Mr. Putin, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Monday. “What concerns us is the deepening of relations between these two countries.”

John Nilsson-Wright, head of the Japan and Korea program at the University of Cambridge's Center for Geopolitics, said Mr. Putin is “strengthening ties with his former Cold War partner” in a bid to “counter any suggestions that which the United States and its allies were able to isolate Moscow.

“It strengthens relations between authoritarian regimes at a time when democratic governments are in a defensive position, facing global security challenges” in the Middle East, East Asia and Ukraine, he added.

In 2000, early in his presidential career, Mr. Putin met Mr. Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, who was still supreme leader.

Ties between the two pariah states have strengthened in recent years, particularly since Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

North Korea needs help with space technology after its recent failure to put a second spy satellite into orbit – as well as food, fuel and foreign currency.

While Russia faces a continuing shortage of weapons in its war in Ukraine.

Washington and Seoul have accused Pyongyang of supplying Moscow with artillery and other equipment, most likely in exchange for food, military aid and technology. North Korea and Russia deny the existence of an arms deal.

After North Korea, Mr Putin is expected to visit Vietnam, a communist state and long-time ally, where the two countries are expected to discuss issues such as trade.

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