Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un as the two countries expand bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Putin and Kim met on Wednesday at a summit at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in Russia’s far-eastern Amur region.
The two leaders inspected the facilities at the cosmodrome ahead of planned talks that could lead to Russia helping North Korea build satellites, as well as a possible arms deal.
The meeting, which Moscow and Pyongyang say aims to expand cooperation in various fields, is being closely monitored by the US and its allies.
Washington claimed it had intelligence data that the talks between Putin and Kim on a weapons deal were "actively advancing".
The White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had allegedly tried to "convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition" to Russia during his recent visit to North Korea.
Kremlin said Kim's visit would cover "bilateral relations, the situation in the region and in the global arena."
Kim tells Putin: I support your sacred battle against West
North Korea's leader said his visit to Russia highlights the "strategic importance" of ties between Pyongyang and Moscow, North Korean state media reported.
Kim also told Putin that he supported the Russian nation's sacred battle against the West.
In this regard, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would always act in its national interest.
"The interests of our two countries are important to us, and not warnings from Washington," Russian media quoted Peskov as saying.
The North Korean leader's previous trip abroad was to Russia to meet Putin after the collapse of bilateral denuclearization talks with the then-US president, Donald Trump.