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Kim Jong-un will visit Russia & meet Putin 'soon' – North Korean state media

Kim Jong-un will visit Russia & meet Putin 'soon' – North Korean state media
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to visit Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin “soon,” the North Korean Central News Agency has reported, in what would be the first meeting of the two heads of state.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier confirmed that the two leaders are scheduled to meet before the end of the month.

KCNA did not elaborate on the subject of the summit or where it would take place, but Japanese media has reported Kim will travel to Vladivostok on Thursday to meet with Putin on Russky Island. According to sources cited by the Russian daily Kommersant, the meeting will occur at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, a location chosen by North Korea for security reasons.

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Kim recently spoke of his readiness to work with Putin to strengthen bilateral ties and achieve peace on the Korean peninsula. The North Korean leader was re-elected as chairman of the State Affairs Commission earlier this month during the last session of parliament.

Kim is expected to visit a Russian Pacific fleet ship to lay a wreath and meet with North Korean exchange students and researchers, according to Kyodo News, which also reported that North Korean state affairs commission vice chair Kim Chang-son is inspecting other suitable sites for the visit.

Kim has not yet visited the Russian President since assuming power following the death of his father Kim Jong-il, whose most recent state visit was in 2011, during Dmitry Medvedev's presidency.

North Korea has shown strong interest in strengthening bilateral ties with China as well, opening a fourth border crossing over the Yalu River earlier this month. Kim has visited China four times in the past 13 months and trade relations appear to remain strong, with the new crossing expected to bring an increase of tourism and economic activity despite reports that US President Donald Trump has China’s cooperation in further sanctions he seeks to impose on North Korea.

Negotiations between the US and North Korea broke down during last month’s summit in Hanoi when the US refused to budge on its demands for total, unconditional denuclearization before any sanctions relief could be granted. North Korea has since demanded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be replaced with someone more “cautious” and “mature” if the talks are to continue, and Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui slammed US National Security Advisor John Bolton as “devoid of discretion and reason” for his insistence on unconditional denuclearization.

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