Vladivostok, Apr. 25:
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to seek closer ties as they met face-to-face today at their historic summit talks for the first time.
The summit meeting in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok came with Kim looking for support in his nuclear stand-off with Washington and Putin keen to put Moscow forward as a player in another global flashpoint.
In brief statements before heading in to the talks, both leaders expressed their hopes for strengthening historic ties.
“I think it will be a very useful meeting in developing the relationship between the two countries, who have a long friendship and history, into a more stable and sound one,” Kim said.
“As the world is focused on the Korean peninsula, I think we will hold a very meaningful dialogue.” Putin told Kim he supports ongoing efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and wants to boost economic ties.
“I am confident that your visit… will help us to better understand how we can resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula and what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are currently taking place,” Putin said.
“In terms of bilateral relations, we have a lot to do to develop economic relations.” The meeting was Kim’s first face-to-face talks with another head of state since returning from his Hanoi summit with US President Donald Trump, which broke down without a deal on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in February.
Among the issues likely to be on the table is the fate of some 10,000 North Korean labourers working in Russia and due to leave by the end of this year under sanctions.
Labour is one of North Korea’s key exports and sources of cash. Pyongyang has reportedly asked Russia to continue to employ its workers after the deadline.