Spurned by Washington, North Korea's Kim seeks a friend in Putin

Clay Curtis
April 25, 2019

He was prominent at a second summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February, which broke down over disagreement on ending the North's nuclear programme.

He told Russia's state-owned Rossiya-24 that he was hoping for a "successful and useful" visit and would like to discuss with Putin the "settlement of the situation in the Korean Peninsula" as well as bilateral ties.

"They carelessly trample on the norms and principles of global law, resort to blackmail, sanctions and pressure, and try to force their values and dubious ideals on entire countries and populations", said Mr Putin, who is heading to China after the talks for another summit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sat down for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying the summit should help plan joint efforts to resolve a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program. The meeting will be followed by broader talks involving officials from both sides. Kim Yong Chol has been the head of the United Front Department, the North Korean Workers' Party apparatus that handles ties with South Korea and increasingly with the United States.

"Without question we welcome your efforts to develop dialogue between the Koreas, and to normalize North Korean-U.S. relations", Putin said. Putin is expected to propose modest financial support, because Russian Federation will not openly flout the economic sanctions and sees North Korea as a questionable investment.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Thursday that his summit with President Vladimir Putin will help jointly assess the Korean peninsula issues and coordinate their stances.

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Putin's last summit with a North Korean leader was in 2002 when his counterpart was Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's father and predecessor.

For Putin, the summit is a chance to push Russia's agenda of opposing United States global influence.

Putin has a track record of making world leaders wait for him, but on Wednesday the Russian leader arrived at the venue around half an hour before Kim showed up, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene.

But the U.S. maintains the sanctions will stay in place until North Korea makes more significant denuclearisation moves.

Kim Jong Il also met in 2011 with Dmitry Medvedev, the Putin lieutenant who was then Russian president.

China has since cemented its role as the isolated North's most important ally, its largest trading partner and crucial fuel supplier, and analysts say the North Korean leader could be looking to balance Beijing's influence.

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