N Korea confirms Kim ‘soon’ to visit Russia

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Seoul, Apr 23 : North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will “soon” visit Russia for his first summit with President Vladimir Putin, state media has reported, confirming a Kremlin announcement.

Kim “will soon pay a visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation” of Putin, North Korea’s official KCNA news service said.

“They will have talks during this visit,” the brief dispatch added.

The KCNA did not specify when or where the pair would meet.

The Kremlin said last week that the pair would meet in Russia “in the second half of April” but provided no further details.

They are expected to meet in the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok, possibly on Wednesday or Thursday.

It will be the first summit between the leaders of North Korea and Russia since Kim Jong Il — the current leader’s father — met with Dmitry Medvedev eight years ago.

Russia has relatively warm ties with Pyongyang and provides some food aid, and Putin has long expressed his readiness to meet with the regime leader.

Their meeting will come less than two months after talks in Hanoi between Kim and US President Donald Trump — their second summit — broke up without reaching agreement on the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Kim has met Chinese President Xi Jinping four times in the space of a year but is now looking for wider international support in the standoff, analysts say.

Moscow has already called for international sanctions on the North to be eased, while the US has accused it of trying to help Pyongyang evade some of the measures — accusations Russia denies.

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