(Bloomberg) — Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation from Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea after the two held their first talks in four years, which the US believed centered on Pyongyang sending arms to help Moscow attack Ukraine.
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Kim’s propaganda apparatus hailed the summit held at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in the Amur, with the official Korean Central News agency saying Thursday the two discussed issues of mutual interest to both countries, peace and security in the region and international justice.
“At the end of the reception, Kim Jong Un courteously invited Putin to visit the DPRK at a convenient time,”’ KCNA said, referring to the country by its formal name. “Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK friendship.”
Kim left for his next destination, KCNA said without giving an indication of where that might be, calling the talks between Kim and Putin “an epoch making event.” Kim will visit civilian and military equipment factories in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and also head to Vladivostok, Putin said earlier.
If Putin visits, it would be the first time he has met Kim in North Korea. KCNA offered few specifics on any agreements reached at the talks.
The visit to the space facility underscored some of the items that may be on Kim’s wish list in exchange for supplying munitions to Russia. Pyongyang has failed twice this year to deploy a spy satellite and could be seeking assistance from Moscow in putting one into orbit. Kim may also be seeking technology that would help his regime’s nuclear warheads survive the heat from reentry to the atmosphere.
Putin said North Korea was interested in Russian space rockets, and his country would potentially be willing to help it build satellites, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned newswire.
North Korea has some of the world’s largest supplies of munitions that are interoperable with Soviet-era systems, which Russia needs as it burns through its stocks of artillery shells. The US has said any supplies would not alter the course of the war and has told Pyongyang it would pay a price for any arms transfers.
The US, Japan and South Korea have long said that North Korea’s space program helps it develop ballistic missiles and is a violation of United Nations resolutions. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that talk of cooperation on space was “troubling” and would violate UN resolutions that Russia voted for.
“When you see Kim Jong Un vowing to provide full, unconditional support for Russia’s so-called ‘sacred fight’ to defend its security interests, which of course is not what it’s doing with respect to the war in Ukraine, that of course is troubling,” Miller said at a news briefing.
“We have reason to believe they were going to discuss military transfers — that is quite troubling and would potentially be in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.
–With assistance from Sangmi Cha and Seyoon Kim.
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