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Kim, Putin vow to seek closer ties

Kim, Putin vow to seek closer ties
Vladimir Putin, right, and Kim Jong Un prior to their talks in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday. (AP)
Vladivostok, Apr 25 (AFP) | Publish Date: 4/25/2019 12:15:22 PM IST

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met for their first-ever summit on Thursday, vowing to seek closer ties as they look to counter US influence.

Putin emerged from the talks saying that like the United States, Russia supports efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent nuclear conflicts. But he insisted that Pyongyang needs guarantees of its security and sovereignty, and took a veiled swipe at Washington for trying to strong-arm North Korea. “We need to... return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” Putin said.

The summit in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok came with Kim locked in a nuclear stand-off with Washington and Putin keen to put Moscow forward as a player in another global flashpoint. 

The two leaders shook hands and shared smiles before heading into one-on-one talks that lasted nearly two hours, longer than expected, at a university campus on an island off the Pacific coast city.

In brief statements before their meeting, both men said they were looking to strengthen ties that date back to the Soviet Union’s support for the founder of North Korea, Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung.

Kim said he hoped to turn the modern relationship with Moscow into a “more stable and sound one” while Putin said the visit would give a boost to diplomatic and economic ties.

Putin said he supported Kim’s efforts to normalise relations with the United States and hoped to find out “what Russian can do” to help with the issue of denuclearisation. The meeting -- which Kim described as “a very meaningful exchange” -- later expanded to include other officials.

About five hours after he arrived, Kim left the campus following a long final handshake with Putin, waving through the window of his black limousine as it drove away. Putin then addressed reporters alone, saying he would fill in Washington on the results of the talks. “There are no secrets here, no conspiracies... Chairman Kim himself asked us to inform the American side of our position,” said Putin, who was due to fly on to Beijing for another summit.

Kim, who arrived a day earlier in his armoured train, was expected to stay in Vladivostok on Friday for cultural events that Russian media have reported will include a ballet and a visit to the city’s aquarium.

The meeting was Kim’s first 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.

It followed repeated invitations from Putin after Kim embarked on a series of diplomatic overtures last year. Since March 2018, the formerly reclusive North Korean leader has held four meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, two with Trump and one with Vietnam’s president.

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