23 Apr 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet with Putin in Russia

11:15 am on 23 April 2019

North Korean state media has confirmed that its leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia "soon" for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un Photo: AFP

With his Russia visit, Mr Kim is seen working to build up foreign support for his economic development plans, since the breakdown of the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February led to stalled talks with Washington on the sanctions relief Pyongyang had sought.

State media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the visit would happen "soon" but did not elaborate the time or the venue.

Mr Putin and Mr Kim were on track to meet by the end of April, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday (local time).

Kim Jong Un's chief aide, Kim Chang Son, was seen in Vladivostok on Sunday according to South Korean news agency Yonhap, leading to speculation that the Putin-Kim summit would be held in the city around 24 or 25 April.

NK News, a group that follows North Korea, showed photos on its website on Monday of preparations underway at Vladivostok's Far Eastern Federal University, likely to host part of the summit, with workers installing North Korean and Russian flags.

After the diplomatic failure at the Hanoi summit, Kim is likely looking to prove that he is still being sought after by world leaders, and that he has more options, said Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.

"Kim does not want to look too dependent on Washington, Beijing and Seoul," Mr Lukin said.

"As for Russia, the Putin-Kim summit will reaffirm Moscow's place as a major player on the Korean Peninsula. This meeting is important for Russian international prestige."

- Reuters

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