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Stalled US talks ‘not linked’ to Kim’s planned Russian trip – but finding way around sanctions is

Stalled US talks ‘not linked’ to Kim’s planned Russian trip – but finding way around sanctions is
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un won’t use his expected Russian visit as leverage in nuclear talks with the US. Boosting economic ties with Moscow while circumventing sanctions is equally important for Pyongyang, analysts told RT.

Kim may arrive in Russia “in spring or summer of this year,” Russian Senator Aleksandr Bashkin said Monday, adding that the details of the high-profile visit are now being agreed between the two countries.

Such a trip is “quite possible” given that it’s been talked-about for at least half-a-year, Konstantin Asmolov from the Center of Korean Research at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies (IFES) said.

His fellow researcher at the center, Evgeny Kim, pointed out that “a North Korean leader hasn’t been to our country for a long time, since 2011” when Kim Jong-il came on an armored train to negotiate with then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“It’s not OK when neighboring states don’t exchange visits. This year, when the tensions on the Korean Peninsula are in decline there’s [an] urgent need to discuss bilateral ties,” Evgeny Kim said.

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The analyst speculated that the visit will most likely take place “sometime in May” due to April being a very busy month for Kim Jong-un.

“The session of North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly will be held next month to vote on the new State Affairs Commission. Kim has to be present at the gathering as it will re-elect him as chairman. On April 15, the birthday of his grandfather, first North Korea leader Kim Il-sung, is celebrated. He’ll then have to form the government and participate in other important state events,” the expert explained.

‘Coordinate economic ties – sanction-free’

Speculation on Kim Jong-un’s possible Russian journey intensified after his nuclear-themed summit with Donald Trump, which took place in Vietnam in late February, turned out to have been fruitless. But both analysts insist that it was more of a coincidence.

Pyongyang and Moscow have a lot to discuss, “from coordination of joint steps to de-escalation [of the Korean Peninsula] to some forms of economic cooperation that don’t fall under international economic sanctions” against North Korea, Asmolov said.

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He pointed out that Russia is doing a lot for the Korean settlement, which includes “consistently supporting resolution of the deadlock through diplomatic means; working with both North and South Korea; trying to loosen the sanctions regime against Pyongyang.”

Evgeny Kim also spoke of such initiatives by Moscow as “proposing to connect its railway system with those of North and South Korea, as well as offering to lay a gas pipeline and powerline to the peninsula to facilitate rapprochement between the two countries.”

“North Korea is eager to do it, but South Korea just can’t say ‘yes’ because it’s tied by agreements it has with the US,” he said.

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