Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeWorldAsiaPutin meets Kim Jong Un at Russia's biggest domestic space launch centre

Putin meets Kim Jong Un at Russia’s biggest domestic space launch centre

Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the Russian space center. The meeting is expected to include an agreement on arms supplies to circumvent global sanctions.

US officials warned that Kim and Putin were expected to meet as arms talks between their two countries progress, media reports suggested they would meet, although the exact date and location of the meeting were unknown.

The two world leaders are meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, located about 1,000 kilometers from Vladivostok. Putin said that the cosmodrome was not chosen as the venue for the meeting by chance. Russia plans to help North Korea build satellites. Putin said:

“The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket technology, and they are trying to develop (their presence in) space.”

Kim expressed gratitude to the Russian government for inviting him to visit the country despite the Russian leader’s “tight schedule.” Earlier, he emphasized that the trip – his first overseas trip since the pandemic – shows that North Korea “prioritizes the strategic importance” of its ties with Russia.

One of the main questions from journalists was whether military cooperation would be on the agenda. Putin answered:

“We’ll talk about all the issues without haste. There is time.”

While Kim is out of state North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a string of tests that violate sanctions.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu — who visited Pyongyang in July and has recently mooted bilateral joint naval drills — will take part in the negotiations, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, RIA Novosti and TASS reported.

Kim is accompanied by top military officials including Korean People’s Army Marshal Pak Jong Chon and Munitions Industry Department Director Jo Chun Ryong. This fact indicates the strong military orientation of the summit.

Ahn Chan Il, a defector and researcher who heads the World Institute for North Korean Studies, told AFP Russia plans to replenish its weapons stockpile with North Korean help, while Pyongyang needs help with satellite technology and modernization of Soviet-era military equipment. He said:

“If North Korea’s multiple rocket launchers and other artillery shells are provided to Russia in large quantities, it could have a significant impact on the war in Ukraine.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS that Russia and North Korea’s communication is back on a pre-Covid track with dialogue “actively developing”.

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