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North Korea confirms leader Kim to meet Putin in Russia ‘soon’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Kremlin/Released) / North Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un (Shealah Craighead/White House)

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

North Korea has confirmed that leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia “soon” and meet with President Vladimir Putin.

The official KCNA news agency said on April 23 that Putin extended the invitation for the visit with Kim, but it did not say exactly when the meeting would take place.

“They [Kim and Putin] will have talks during the visit,” KCNA said.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on April 23 that the visit was scheduled for April 25 in Vladivostok, a port city close to Russia’s short border with North Korea. The newspaper cited two sources close to the process of preparing the visit.

The Kremlin said on April 18 that Kim plans to visit Russia “in the second half of April.”

Putin is due to visit China to attend the April 26-27 Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, which is relatively close to Vladivostok and to North Korea.

Kim Jong Un’s chief aide, Kim Chang Son, was seen in Vladivostok on April 21, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. The Russian news agency Interfax reported that a limousine used by the North Korean leader had been brought to Vladivostok.

NK News, a news outlet that focuses on North Korea, showed photos on its website on April 22 of preparations under way at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, with workers installing North Korean and Russian flags.

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

At summits in June 2018 and February 2019, Trump and Kim failed to reach an agreement on a denuclearization deal.

The Trump 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 in Moscow last week to meet Russian officials to discuss ways to advance a “final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.”

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