Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to seek closer ties during their first ever summit, AFP reported. The meeting took place in Vladivostok, Russia.
The two leaders reportedly discussed denuclearisation and Putin offered to support efforts to normalise North Korea’s relations with the United States, according to BBC.
Kim said the two leaders had a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange of opinions on issues of mutual interest and current issues”, reported BBC. Putin said they had discussed relations between the two Koreas, “and what we can do so that there are good prospects for an improvement in the situation”.
Kim’s trip to Russia comes almost a month after his summit with United States President Donald Trump ended without any agreement due to disputes over US-led sanctions on North Korea.
Before heading in for the meeting, both leaders expressed hope for strengthening historic ties. “I think it will be a very useful meeting in developing the relationship between the two countries, who have a long friendship and history, into a more stable and sound one,” Kim said.
Putin said he supports efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and wants to boost economic ties. “I am confident that your visit... will help us to better understand how we can resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula and what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are currently taking place,” the Russia president said.
The two leaders are also likely to discuss the fate of around 10,000 North Korean labourers working in Russia who are due to leave by the end of 2019 under sanctions. Pyongyang has reportedly asked Russia to continue to employ its workers after the deadline ends.
Kim’s visit to Russia is being viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has allies even after talks with the US broke down during the summit in Vietnam. North Korea had blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the two countries failed to reach a deal at the Hanoi summit. North Korea also demanded that Pompeo be removed from the nuclear talks, after accusing him of “talking nonsense”, and asked for someone “more careful” to replace him.