Putin and Kim Jong-un pledge stronger ties

North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin have pledged to boost ties at their first ever summit. The pair greeted each other warmly ahead of the talks, near the port city of Vladivostok in Russia's far east...


North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin have pledged to boost ties at their first ever summit.

The pair greeted each other warmly ahead of the talks, near the port city of Vladivostok in Russia's far east.

The leaders reportedly discussed denuclearisation, with Mr Putin offering to support efforts to normalise North Korean-US relations.

Talks between those two powers stalled following a February summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Speaking after the meeting with Mr Putin, Mr Kim said the two leaders had a "very meaningful one-on-one exchange of opinions on issues of mutual interest and current issues".

Mr Putin said the pair had discussed relations between the two Koreas, "and what we can do so that there are good prospects for an improvement in the situation".

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Kim said he hoped for "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".

Mr Kim greeted Russian officials warmly when he arrived by train on Russky Island on Wednesday.

The North Korean leader was entertained by a brass band before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards, who - in now familiar scenes - jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

What do we know about the summit?
According to the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

"There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment," Mr Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

"But, on the other hand, efforts are being made by other countries. Here all efforts merit support as long as they really aim at de-nuclearisation and resolving the problem of the two Koreas."

What do both sides want?
This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of the talks with the US in February.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit. Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of "talking nonsense" and asking for someone "more careful" to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US. Mr Kim may try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

How close are Russia and North Korea?
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (of which Russia is the main successor state) maintained close military and trade links with its communist ally, North Korea, for ideological and strategic reasons.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, trade links with post-communist Russia shrank and North Korea leaned towards China as its main ally.

Under President Putin, Russia recovered economically and in 2014 he wrote off most of North Korea's Soviet-era debt in a major goodwill gesture.

While it is arguable how much leverage Russia has with the North today, the communist state still regards it as one of the least hostile foreign powers.



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