AGENCY REPORT International

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia ahead of Putin summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia ahead of his summit with President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders will meet in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid tensions surrounding the North Korean leader’s nuclear programme.

The leader had a sit down with local officials as well as a Russian deputy foreign minister before continuing on his journey to Vladivostok.

Mr Kim was quoted on the local administration’s website as saying: “I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it. It’s been seven years since I took the helm, and I’ve only just managed to visit.”

He reportedly said he echoes his father’s “great love for Russia” and that he intends to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

Mr Kim is the first North Korean leader to travel to Russia since his late father, Kim Jong Il, visited in 2011.

Moscow is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea’s mineral resources, including rare metals.

Pyongyang needs Russia’s electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernise its Soviet-built industrial factories, railways and other infrastructure.

Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov said Russia’s bilateral trade with North Korea fell by more than 56% last year because of sanctions against Pyongyang.

He added Moscow believes it is important that North Korea and the United States are interested in maintaining their contact.

North Korea has said it no longer wants to deal with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and has called for him to be replaced in denuclearisation discussions by someone “more mature”.

Mr Kim has had two summits with US President Donald Trump, but the latest one in Vietnam collapsed in February.

North Korea wanted more sanctions relief than the United States was willing to give for the amount of nuclear disarmament.


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