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N. Korean leader Kim may visit Russia for talks with Putin on arms deal: report

By Yonhap

Published : Sept. 5, 2023 - 09:43

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may soon travel to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss a possible arms deal, a news report said Monday.

The New York Times reported that Kim may travel to Vladivostok next week to meet with Putin.

"In a rare foray from his country, Mr. Kim would travel from Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, probably by armored train, to Vladivostok, on the Pacific Coast of Russia, where he would meet with Mr. Putin," said the report, quoting unidentified "American and allied officials."

"Both leaders would be on the campus of Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, which is scheduled to run Sept. 10 to 13," it added.

The proposed visit follows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's trip to Pyongyang in late July, when he and North Korean officials reportedly discussed a potential arms deal between the two countries, according to US officials.

John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, earlier warned that Pyongyang may be considering providing additional weapons and military equipment to Russia for use in the latter's ongoing war in Ukraine, also noting that the leaders of North Korea and Russia may have discussed such a deal in letters they have exchanged since Shoigu's trip to Pyongyang.

The Russian defense minister was earlier reported to have said that Russia and North Korea are considering holding a joint military exercise with China.

The New York Times report said a delegation of some 20 North Korean officials, "including some who oversee security protocols for the leadership," traveled to Vladivostok in late August, indicating an upcoming trip by the North Korean leader.

"One potential stop for Mr. Kim after Vladivostok, an official said, is Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space launch center," said the report, noting North Korea may be seeking to secure advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines from Russia in exchange of its weapons.

Pyongyang unsuccessfully fired two space launch vehicles each carrying a military reconnaissance satellite in late May and August. North Korea says it will attempt another launch in October. (Yonhap)