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(LEAD) N. Korea's Kim, Putin set for summit in Russia amid concerns over arms deal

06:58 September 13, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details, photos; RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS byline)
By Lee Minji

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin were set to hold a rare summit in Russia, with the two isolated leaders expected to advance an arms negotiation and bolster military cooperation.

Analysts have predicted that North Korea may agree to supply Russia with ammunition and weaponry for its war in Ukraine. Moscow, in return, may agree on a weapons-related technology transfer to Pyongyang, such as those involving spy satellites and nuclear-powered submarines.

If Kim and Putin also agree to strengthen their military cooperation, including a three-way naval drill with China, it would pose a major security challenge on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

This file photo, carried by the Korean Central News Agency, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) toasting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a post-summit dinner at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia, on April 25, 2019. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Kim said his trip to Russia for a meeting with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is a "clear manifestation" of North Korea prioritizing the strategic importance of their bilateral ties, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Wednesday.

The KCNA also confirmed that Kim arrived in the Russian border city of Khasan on Tuesday morning and has left for his "destination," without specifying details.

It remains unknown exactly when and where Kim and Putin would hold a meeting, though some foreign media reports said the summit would likely take place Wednesday at Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in the Amur region.

Kim's train arrived at the Russian border city of Khasan on Tuesday, where Russia's Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov received Kim.

Kim's train then headed to the Far East city of Ussuriysk and crossed the railway bridge over the Razdolnaya River in Primorsky Krai, and is now moving north of Vladivostok, raising the possibility that he could meet Putin in a different region.

Initially, it was widely speculated that Kim would travel to Vladivostok to meet Putin as he previously did in 2019.

This photo, carried by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Sept. 12, 2023, shows the North's leader Kim Jong-un leaving Pyongyang for a trip to Russia on his special train. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

In addition to a summit with Putin, Kim is expected to hold a separate meeting with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu around Saturday, according to the reports.

The United States has warned that it would take actions if North Korea agree to provide weapons to Russia.

Matthew Miller, a spokesperson at the U.S. State Department, said that any arms transfer from North Korea to Russia would violate multiple United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

"We will monitor what happens and will not hesitate to take action to hold those accountable if necessary," the spokesperson told a daily press briefing when asked about a potential arms deal between Pyongyang and Moscow.

This photo, captured from Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov's Telegram post, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stepping off his special train at the Khasan station in Primorsky Krai on Sept. 12, 2023. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)



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