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Russia’s Putin agrees to visit North Korea on formal invitation by North’s leader Kim Jong-un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) meets Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur Oblast of the Far East Region, Russia, on September 13, 2023, in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. (Via Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted a formal invitation by Kim Jung-un to visit North Korea for more talks on their “far-reaching plan” to promote a deeper partnership, as the North Korean leader continues his tour of eastern Russia following his summit with Putin.

Kim, who came to Russia by his armored train on Tuesday, attended a face-to-face summit with Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in Russia’s far-eastern Amur region on Wednesday to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest.

At the end of their four-hour summit, the first in four years, Kim invited Putin to visit North Korea at “a convenient time." However, no timeline for their next meeting has been set.

“Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK friendship,” North Korean state news agency KCNA said on Thursday, using the acronym for the country’s official name.

According to KCNA, Kim said that bilateral ties between North Korea and Russia have reached a new level with their meeting, expressing his willingness to foster stable, future-oriented relations for the next 100 years.

“We are confident that the Russian army and people will inevitably attain victory in the sacred struggle to punish the evil crowd, which claims the right to hegemony based on the illusion of expansionism, a struggle to create the stability needed for development,” Kim said, without naming Ukraine.

The rare summit has raised concern in the United States and particularly Ukraine that Kim might reach a deal with Putin to sell weapons to Russia and in return acquire needed military technology for the North.

North Korea has made space technology a priority. Kim in the past had stressed the role of military satellites as a means to protect national safety and territorial stability.

Washington claims that it had intelligence data that the talks between Putin and Kim on a weapons deal were “actively advancing,” while the Kremlin says Kim's visit will cover "bilateral relations, the situation in the region and in the global arena.”

The US State Department has already warned that the US “will not hesitate” to impose additional sanctions on Moscow and Pyongyang in case of such a deal.

“We have taken a number of actions already to sanction entities that brokered arms sales between North Korea and Russia and we won't hesitate to impose additional actions if appropriate,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

“When you see what looks to be increased cooperation and probably military transfers, that is quite troubling and would potentially be in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.

Both Russia and North Korea are already under harsh sanctions by the US, the former for its war on Ukraine and the latter for its years-long ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

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. 

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