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Kremlin says North Korean leader to visit Russia later this month

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a military parade on April 15, 2017. (Yonhap News/Newscom/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Kremlin has announced that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to visit Russia within the next 12 days.

In a brief statement issued on its website on April 18, the Kremlin said Kim plans to visit Russia “in the second half of April” after being invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin is due to visit China next week to attend the April 26-27 Belt and Road Forum in Beijing — a gathering that brings together heads of state from dozens of countries to discuss the building of roads and maritime trading routes across the world.

Some media organizations have speculated that Putin could meet with Kim around that time in Vladivostok, the Far Eastern port city near the border with North Korea.

The Kremlin’s announcement comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing for a deal to end nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Two earlier summits between Kim and Trump failed to reach an agreement on a denuclearization deal.

Trump’s administration has suggested the possibility of a third summit, but North Korea on April 18 demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from any future negotiations.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was due in Moscow on April 17-18 to meet Russian officials to discuss ways to advance a “final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” Washington said on April 16.

In March, the United States imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.