Following the Cosmodrome visit, Putin said that Kim would also oversee a display of the potential of Russian warships in the Far East.
“There is also a military component in Vladivostok, on the lines of the defence ministry, but it is simply to demonstrate the capabilities of the Pacific Fleet,” Putin told state-run media.
Kim will visit the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, as well as the Russian Academy of Sciences, including laboratories researching marine biology, Putin said.
Before Vladivostok, Kim will go to Komsomolsk-on-Amur, an important industrial centre.
“[Kim] will visit factories where civilian and combat aviation equipment is produced,” Putin said on television.
The decision to meet at Cosmodrome, Russia’s most important launch centre on its own soil, suggests that Kim is seeking Russian help developing military reconnaissance satellites, which he has described as crucial to enhance the threat of his nuclear-capable missiles. In recent months, North Korea has repeatedly failed to put its first military spy satellite into orbit.
But either buying arms from or providing rocket technology to North Korea would violate international sanctions that Russia has supported in the past.
Putin welcomed Kim’s limousine, brought from Pyongyang in the North Korean leader’s special armoured train, at the entrance to the launch facility with a handshake that lasted around 40 seconds.
In his opening remarks, Putin welcomed Kim to Russia and said he was glad to see him, saying the talks would cover economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the “situation in the region.”
Kim, in turn, expressed support for Moscow’s efforts to defend its interests, in an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine.
“Russia is currently engaged in a just fight against hegemonic forces to defend its sovereign rights, security and interests,” the North Korean leader said.
“I take this opportunity to affirm that we will always stand with Russia on the anti-imperialist front and the front of independence.”
The two men began their meeting with a tour of a Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility, at which Kim peppered a Russian space official with questions about the rockets.
The meeting came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea, extending a highly provocative run in North Korean weapons testing since the start of 2022, as Kim used the distraction caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine to accelerate his weapons development.
Official photos showed that Kim was accompanied by Pak Thae-song, chairman of North Korea’s space science and technology committee, and navy Admiral.
Kim Myong-sik, who are linked with North Korean efforts to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.
Asked whether Russia will help North Korea build satellites, Putin was quoted by Russian state media as saying “that’s why we have come here. The DPRK leader shows keen interest in rocket technology. They’re trying to develop space, too,” using the abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Asked about military cooperation, Putin said “we will talk about all issues without a rush. There is time.”
Kim also brought Jo Chun-ryong, a ruling party official in charge of munitions policies, who joined him on recent tours of factories producing artillery shells and missile, according to South Korea.
Despite the recent frequency of North Korean missile firings, Wednesday’s launches on the eve of the summit came as a surprise. South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said it was the first time the North launched a missile while Kim was travelling overseas.
Kim could have ordered the launches to make a point to Putin about North Korea’s defence posture and show that he remains in close control of the country’s military activities even while abroad, said Moon Seong-mook, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.
The United States has accused North Korea of providing Russia with arms, including selling artillery shells to the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Both Russian and North Korean officials denied such claims.
Speculation about military cooperation grew after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea in July.
Kim subsequently toured his weapons factories, which experts said had the dual goal of encouraging the modernisation of North Korean weaponry and examining artillery and other supplies that could be exported to Russia.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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