Seoul, Sep 14 (EFE).- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit the secretive Asian country, the North Korean state news agency KCNA reported Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) visit the Vostochny cosmodrome outside of the town of Tsiolkovsky (former Uglegorsk), some 180 km north of Blagoveschensk in Amur region, Russia, 13 September 2023. EFE/EPA/ARTEM GEODAKYAN/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT
Kim, who is visiting Russia, made the invitation during a welcome reception hosted by Putin on Wednesday, it said.
“At the end of the reception, Kim Jong-un courteously invited Putin to visit [North Korea] at a convenient time. Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure,” KCNA reported.
Putin last visited North Korea in 2000, where he held a summit with Kim Jong-il, father of Kim Jong-un and the then North Korean leader, who died in 2011.
On Wednesday, Kim and Putin held a two-hour summit at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region after they met there and toured the facilities.
Putin said afterwards that there are possibilities for bilateral military and space cooperation, at a time when the West threatens to impose new sanctions on both countries.
Kim assured Putin that relations with Moscow are now Pyongyang’s “top priority,” called Russia’s war in Ukraine a “sacred fight” and reaffirmed that North Korea “supports all Putin’s decisions.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (3-L) signs the visitor’s book during a visit along with Russian President Vladimir Putin (2-R) to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, outside the town of Tsiolkovsky (former Uglegorsk), some 180km north of Blagoveschensk in Amur region, Russia, 13 September 2023. EFE/EPA/ARTEM GEODAKYAN/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN / POOL MANDATORY CREDIT
The North Korean leader arrived in Russia on Tuesday amid strong suspicions from the West about the intention of both countries to strengthen military and space cooperation through a weapons and technology supply agreement.
According to Western sources, Kim could be willing to support Moscow’s war with anti-tank missiles and artillery ammunition.
In addition to food aid, in exchange, Pyongyang could receive technology to launch satellites and nuclear-powered submarines, which would greatly strengthen the war capabilities of the North Korean regime.
In another KCNA report, it was stated that at the cosmodrome, Kim “was briefed on the detailed technical features of Soyuz-2, Angara and other type carrier rockets and their assembling and launching processes.”
It would violate UN resolutions if they agree to an exchange of weapons or related technologies.
Representatives of the South Korean government on Thursday expressed concern about the potential weapons deal.
“We are witnessing relations between Russia and North Korea drawing closer,” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said at a forum in Poland. “News about the possibility of military cooperation between the two countries is worrisome.”
Pyongyang’s nuclear missile development poses threats both to East Asia and Europe, he added, according to Yonhap news agency.
Meanwhile, Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho said “we are deeply concerned about military cooperation and arms transactions between the two nations.”
“We once again called on North Korea and Russia to stop illegal and reckless acts that only deepen their own isolation, and abide by international norms, including the UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.
Last week, in view of the summit between Kim and Putin, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol urged Russia to behave in a “responsible” manner, especially given its status as a permanent member of the UNSC.
On Thursday, Kim plans to visit an aircraft factory in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur where several Russian fighter jets are manufactured, as well as military facilities in Vladivostok. EFE