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Putin arrives in Pyongyang for summit with Kim

June 19, 2024 - 05:07 By Yonhap
Russian President Vladimir Putin is greeted by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a welcoming ceremony at an airport in Pyongyang on Wednesday. (KCNA)

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday in his first trip to North Korea in 24 years as he is set to hold a summit with leader Kim Jong-un in a show of their deepening relations.

Putin began his state visit to Pyongyang early Wednesday morning (Korea time), amid growing concerns that burgeoning bilateral defense cooperation would help prop up Russia's war operations in Ukraine and enhance North Korea's weapons programs to the detriment of regional and global peace.

Kim and the Russian leader greeted each other with a hug at the airport, photos carried by North Korea's state media showed -- a spectacle underscoring their growing bond that has jelled in the midst of crippling international sanctions against their countries and their diplomatic isolation on the global stage.

Hours after his arrival, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Kim "shook hands with Putin and embraced him warmly, expressing his joy and gladness to meet him again" following their summit at the Vostochny spaceport last September.

The two leaders rode together in Putin's vehicle to Kumsusan State Guest House. On their way there, the leaders exchanged their "pent-up inmost thoughts and opened their minds to more surely develop the DPRK-Russia relations," the KCNA said.

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Putin's visit to the DPRK at a remarkable time, when the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the DPRK and Russia have surely entered a course of new comprehensive development, is of great importance in reliably promoting the strategic and future-oriented development of the DPRK-Russia relations," the KCNA said.

Putin last visited Pyongyang in July 2000, when he met with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the late father of the current leader. This week's visit comes nine months after the current North Korean leader had a summit with Putin in Russia's Far East in September.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin's foreign policy aide, has told TASS that the summit between Kim and Putin may produce a treaty on a "comprehensive strategic partnership," a document expected to accelerate and broaden the two countries' cooperation.

Since the summit in September, Pyongyang and Moscow have been strengthening their security partnership in ways reminiscent of their countries' Cold War-era camaraderie.

Washington has revealed that the North has supplied Russia with dozens of ballistic missiles and more than 11,000 containers of munitions for use in Ukraine.

In return, the North has been seeking assistance from Moscow, including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles and ballistic missile production equipment, according to US officials.

As Putin arrived in the North, the White House reiterated concerns about military ties between Pyongyang and Moscow.

"Deepening cooperation between Russia and the DPRK is a trend that should be of great concern to anyone interested in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, upholding the global nonproliferation regime, abiding by the UN Security Council resolutions and supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend for their freedom and their independence against Russia's aggression," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told a press briefing.

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Analysts said Kim and Putin may adopt a joint declaration that calls for both sides to elevate the level of military, security and economic cooperation, but they saw a low possibility of them clinching a treaty akin to a military alliance.

The two sides are also expected to highlight cooperation in the economic sector, as their arms deals and military cooperation constitute a violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, according to observers.

In an article published Tuesday by the Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper, Putin said Russia has a plan to build trade and settlement systems with North Korea that will not be controlled by Western countries.

Following his trip to Pyongyang, Putin will fly to Vietnam for another state visit. (Yonhap)