A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) presiding over a launching ceremony for what is said to be a tactical nuclear-armed submarine, designated No. 841 or Hero Kim Kun Ok, at the Sinpho shipyard in North Korea, 06 September 2023. EFE/EPA/KCNA EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Kim Jong-un travels to Russia at Putin’s invitation with arms supplies on agenda

Moscow/Seoul, Sep 11 (EFE).- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un boarded a train on Monday bound for Russia, where he will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

According to media reports, Kim and Putin are expected to address the supply of weaponry to Moscow to support its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the naming ceremony of the Arctic tanker-gas carrier Alexey Kosygin and the tanker-shuttle Valentin Pikul at the Zvezda shipbuilding complex in Primorsky Krai region, Russia, 11 September 2023. EFE/EPA/ALEXEI DANICHEV /SPUTNIK/KREMLIN / POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

The Kremlin has confirmed that Kim will make an official visit to Russia “in the coming days”, in what would be the North Korean dictator’s first foreign trip since 2019.

The meeting between Kim and “Comrade Putin” was also confirmed by the North Korean state news agency KCNA.

According to Yonhap news agency citing South Korea officials, the North Korean leader’s armored train left Pyongyang on Monday, allegedly bound for Russian territory.

MEETING IN VLADIVOSTOK

Putin traveled Monday morning to Vladivostok, the capital of the Russian Far East and the likely venue for the talks with Kim.

This week the Russian leader is due to chair the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, where he will meet with Zhang Guoqing, vice premier of China, the main ally of the North Korean regime.

The Kremlin suggested that the summit would take place at the end of that forum, which concludes on Wednesday.

“We have been preparing for Kim Jong-un’s visit for a long time,” a government source in a Russian Far East region told Russian agencies.

It was unknown when exactly Kim might arrive in Vladivostok, which is about 700 kilometers from the North Korean capital, as his movements are shrouded in secrecy.

The last time Kim traveled to that same city to meet with Putin, in April 2019, he traveled in his special armored train, which took around 20 hours to reach the Pacific Ocean port city.

This is Kim’s first trip abroad since 2019, when the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic led the isolated regime to close its borders in early 2020.

The hermetic Asian country only allowed people from abroad to enter again, under strict protocols, this summer.

MUNITION AND MISSILES FOR UKRAINE

Last week The New York Times and other US and UK media reported that Kim would meet with Putin to discuss military-technical cooperation with an eye on the war in Ukraine.

According to that newspaper, Putin wants to buy artillery ammunition and anti-tank missiles from North Korea that Moscow could use on the battlefied in Ukraine.

The press has reported that North Korea, which has technically been at war with South Korea for 70 years as no peace treaty has ever been signed since the end of hostilities in 1953, has millions of 122 and 151 millimeter howitzers in its arsenals, while experts also point out that Pyongyang has spare parts for Soviet-made T-54 and T-62 tanks.

Meanwhile, North Korea is reportedly seeking advanced technology to build satellites and nuclear-powered submarines, as well as oil production and food aid.

NUCLEAR PRECEDENT

Kim, who has been in power since 2011, met with Putin for the first time in Vladivostok in April 2019, a meeting in which he discussed security guarantees for Pyongyang with his Russian counterpart.

Putin, who has also threatened to brandish his nuclear arsenal in the face of the Nato threat, called on the US to commit in writing to respect the sovereignty of the communist regime, after which North Korea would begin its denuclearization process.

The Kremlin chief has warned on numerous occasions that after the overthrow and execution of Iraqi and Libyan leaders Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, respectively, the Kims concluded that nuclear weapons were the best guarantee of the hermetic country’s survival. EFE

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