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Putin to visit N Korea; countries may sign ‘strategic partnership deal’

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un attend a meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s far eastern Amur region on September 13, 2023. (Via Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to make a historic visit to North Korea, with the two sides likely to sign a “strategic partnership treaty.”

The Russian head of state is to arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday on a "friendly state visit," Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said.

He will be heading a sizeable delegation, including Russia’s foreign, defense, health, transport, and space ministers.

Putin last visited North Korea more than 20 years ago, meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il.

The trip also comes nine months after the Russian chief executive hosted Kim on a rare foreign trip in the Russian Far East.

Military, economic, and other cooperation between North Korea and Russia have sharply increased since Kim’s visit. Speaking last week, the North Korean leader hailed that his country’s ties with Russia had "developed into an unbreakable relationship."

Still addressing the issue of Putin’s upcoming visit, Ushakov said, "Several documents will be signed," among which will be "important, highly significant documents."

These may include the partnership document that would be an updated version of a deal signed when Putin visited North Korea the first time, he added.

The potential document would be changed to adapt to a "deep evolution of the geopolitical situation in the world and the region," Ushakov said.

Western allies, at the head of which the United States, which have been piling up sanctions on both the nations, have frowned on Putin’s visit.

The White House said the US was concerned about closer ties between Russia and North Korea.

"We're not concerned about the trip" by Putin, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday. "What we are concerned about is the deepening relationship between these two countries."

American officials have accused the North of providing Russia with military equipment to help it prolong fighting in Ukraine -- where Russia has been leading a military operation -- in return for key military technologies.

Both Pyongyang and Moscow have denied the allegations of weapons transfers.

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