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Putin asks for ‘urgent’ first summit with Kim Jong Un, North Korea says

Russian President Vladimir Putin (U.S. Department of State/Flickr)
August 15, 2018

A recent report revealed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be meeting with another major foreign leader this year, and at that leader’s “urgent” request.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is prepared to meet Kim “at an early date,” according to North Korean state media, reported Wednesday by Channel News Asia. It would be the first meeting between the two leaders.

Putin had sent a telegram to Kim in which he congratulated Kim on the Aug. 15 National Liberation Day of North Korea, marking the end of Japanese rule over the Korean Peninsula. Putin also “stressed his desire and readiness to establish a dialogue,” a Kremlin spokesman said.

“I affirm that I am ready to meet you at an early date to discuss urgent issues of bilateral relations and important matters of the region,” Putin said in a message. A specific date was not provided.

Putin also said he hoped to establish “reciprocal cooperation including the realization of the tripartite project” with North Korea, as well as South Korea.

Putin previously extended an invitation to Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to an economic form held in Russia next month. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the forum is “open for all leaders of the region” but has not yet received an official word on whether Kim will attend.

Kim sent a message to Putin remarking on the “valuable tradition” of their joint conflict with Japan, noting that it provided “strong roots” in their bilateral relations.

“It noted that the valuable tradition that the peoples of the two countries struggled shoulder to shoulder against the common enemy in the arduous anti-Japanese war is the strong roots of the DPRK-Russia friendly relations and serves as a driving force to continuously develop the bilateral relations as required by a new era,” North Korea’s Central News Agency said of the message, according to Newsweek.

Kim also expressed good luck to Putin on “building a powerful Russia.”

It’s unclear whether Kim sent the message before or after receiving Putin’s message.

Since the Winter Olympics, Korean relations have been on the rise. Kim has met with Moon Jae-in two times, and once with both U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea’s relations with China and Russia are said to be increasing as well. North Korea has seen an increase of tourists from China, and Russian veterans participated in the opening ceremony for an international youth football tournament in Pyongyang.

Kim is expected to meet with Moon for a third time at the end of September. The South Korean president has been joining the U.S. in pressuring the North to denuclearize.

Moon warned Kim that their economic partnership would depend on whether or not the North gave up their nuclear arsenal, The Guardian reported. However, the two began discussions on developments to connect their rail systems, as well as to establish a formal end of the Korean War.

It’s unclear what kind of influence Putin and Russian officials will have on North Korea’s denuclearization process.