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Kim to meet with Putin in first overseas trip since 2019

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In this April 2019 photo released by the regional government of Primorsky Kai in the Russian Far East, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un disembarks from a train at Khasan Station, the last railway stop on the Vladivostok branch of the Russian Far Eastern Railway before the North Korean-Russian border. The photo was taken during Kim's last overseas trip, which was to Vladivostok to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. [YONHAP]
In this April 2019 photo released by the regional government of Primorsky Kai in the Russian Far East, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un disembarks from a train at Khasan Station, the last railway stop on the Vladivostok branch of the Russian Far Eastern Railway before the North Korean-Russian border. The photo was taken during Kim’s last overseas trip, which was to Vladivostok to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. [YONHAP]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will soon meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pyongyang and Moscow confirmed on Monday evening.

The Kremlin said that Kim will visit Russia in the coming days at Putin’s invitation, while the North’s state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the two leaders will meet and have a “talk” without providing additional details.

The announcements from both Russia and the North came after high-ranking South Korean government officials told local media that a train believed to be carrying Kim had departed Pyongyang and begun moving towards Vladivostok, a port city located on the Pacific coast of the Russian Far East.

Russian media reported earlier Monday that Putin departed on a two-day visit to Vladivostok to attend the annual Eastern Economic Forum being held at Far Eastern Federal University. The Russian president is due to speak at the forum’s plenary session scheduled for Tuesday.

The university’s campus is located on Russky Island, which lies to the southwest of Vladivostok’s main harbor.

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The Kremlin initially denied that the two leaders would meet before later confirming that talks would soon take place.

Kim is believed to be traveling in an armored train from the North Korean capital to Vladivostok, a journey that could take up to 20 hours or more, given rail conditions in the North.

While the exact agenda of the two leaders’s expected summit remains unclear, Putin is expected to ask for North Korean artillery shells and missiles to fuel Russia’s war machine in Ukraine, while Kim could seek advanced technology for nuclear-powered submarines and satellites, which are both items on his previously announced wish list of sophisticated military hardware that his regime has yet to successfully develop.

Both Washington and Seoul have warned Pyongyang and Moscow against aiding each other without specifying the exact consequences.

Kim’s expected trip to Vladivostok would mark his first trip abroad since his visit to the Russian port city in April 2019, which was also for talks with Putin.

The North’s state media gave little notice of Kim’s impending meeting with Putin earlier on Monday.

Kim was present in Pyongyang as late as Sunday to greet and take part in a commemorative photo session with participants of the previous day’s parade, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the regime’s founding.

In this footage broadcast by Pyongyang’s state-controlled Korea Central Television, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un greets participants of Saturday’s paramilitary parade during a group photo session on Sunday. [YONHAP]
In this footage broadcast by Pyongyang’s state-controlled Korea Central Television, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un greets participants of Saturday’s paramilitary parade during a group photo session on Sunday. [YONHAP]

A communist government was formally established in the North on Sept. 9, 1948, after Soviet forces and Kim’s grandfather, regime founder Kim Il Sung, refused entry to United Nations supervisors to conduct elections in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula.

The North’s state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong-un observed a paramilitary parade filled “with splendor” at Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang.

State media did not mention a speech at the event by Kim, who was photographed waving to parade participants on a central dais next to his daughter Kim Ju-ae.

Other dignitaries who attended the parade included a delegation from Beijing led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Guozhong, as well as a Russian military marching band.

During the Sunday group photo session, Kim called the parade a “powerful demonstration of the invincible spirit of socialist Korea,” according to the KCNA.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]