North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet tomorrow in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok to discuss the international standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, a Kremlin official said.
The visit is part of Kim’s effort to build foreign support after the breakdown of a second United States-North Korea summit in Vietnam in February meant no relief on sanctions for North Korea, analysts said.
The summit will be the first between Putin and the North Korean leader and the nuclear row, and how to resolve it, would be the main item on the agenda, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters.
Putin previously held a summit in Russia with Kim Jong Un’s father and predecessor as North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, in 2002. Kim Jong Il visited Russia again in 2011, when he was hosted by Dmitry Medvedev, the Putin lieutenant who at the time was serving as Russian president.
“In the last few months the situation around the peninsula has stabilized somewhat, thanks in large part to North Korea’s initiatives of stopping rocket testing and closing its nuclear test site,” Ushakov said. “Russia intends to help in any way possible to cement that positive trend.”
The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said yesterday the visit would happen soon, but did not elaborate on a time or location. Kim’s chief aide, Kim Chang Son, was seen in Vladivostok on Sunday, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Vladivostok is the closest major Russian city to the short stretch of border that Russia and North Korea share, and can be reached from the border via train, Kim’s preferred mode of international transport.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said it understood the agenda would include Russia-North Korea relations, denuclearisation, and regional cooperation. “Russia shares our viewpoints such as the achievement of complete denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula and the settlement of permanent peace,” foreign ministry spokesman Kim In-chul said in Seoul.
“I hope that the summit will be an opportunity that contributes to positive progress.” After the failed Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Kim is probably looking to prove that he is still sought after by world leaders, and that he has more options, said Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University.