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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.
Kim said his trip to Russia for a meeting with 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 confirmed that Kim's train arrived at the Russian border city of Khasan at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, where Kim was "warmly welcomed" by senior Russian officials, including Russia's Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov, and attended a ceremony marking his visit aimed at putting Pyongyang-Moscow relations on "a fresh higher level."
Kim then left for his destination, the KCNA said, 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.
Following a stop at Khasan on Tuesday, Kim's train headed to the Far East city of Ussuriysk and crossed the railway bridge over the Razdolnaya River in Primorsky Krai, and appeared to be moving north of Vladivostok, according to foreign media reports, 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.
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 it will take action if North Korea agrees 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.