A file picture showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L), shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) after a meeting in Vladivostok, Russia. EFE/FILE/Alexey Nikolsky / Sputnik / Kremlin Pool

South Korea ‘closely monitoring’ Kim Jong-un’s upcoming Russia visit

Seoul, Sep 7 (EFE).- The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) said on Thursday it was closely monitoring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s upcoming visit to Russia amid growing collaboration between Pyongyang and Moscow in recent months.

NIS director Kim Kyou-hyun reported during a parliamentary intelligence committee meeting that the agency “is closely monitoring the planned visit” and will be sharing intelligence with other South Korean spy agencies.

The intelligence chief has underlined that such a summit between Pyongyang and Moscow could have “a big effect” on international situations.

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Kim was planning to travel to Vladivostok, a southeastern Russian seaport city, possibly by an armored train later this month.

Nevertheless, the NIS director has said that, “there is a possibility of Kim Jong-un making a surprise move by choosing a different route than what is expected,” according to Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, a parliamentarian from the ruling People Power Party.

Kim had previously visited Vladivostok, a major Pacific port city near the borders of China and North Korea, in April 2019, where he held a meeting with President Putin.

According to the New York Times report, the upcoming meeting between Kim and Putin would involve discussions on the potential exchange of weapons and other military technology.

Specifically, Putin is interested in North Korea selling artillery shells and anti-tank missiles to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

In return, Kim Jong-un would seek advanced technology for manufacturing satellites and nuclear-powered submarines, along with food aid.

In the wake of the breakdown of denuclearization negotiations with the United Nations in 2019, North Korea has expedited efforts to strengthen ties and find common ground with China and Russia in the face of rising tensions with Washington and Seoul.

Washington, Seoul, and their regional allies have also bolstered their cooperation in the Pacific region in response to these developments. EFE