Putin willing to visit Pyongyang soon, North Korea says

Putin willing to visit Pyongyang soon, North Korea says

SEOUL — Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his willingness to visit Pyongyang soon when he met with North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in Russia last week, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA reported on Sunday.

Mr. Putin also thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for his invitation to visit, KCNA said, citing North Korea’s foreign minister’s assistant office.

It would be the Russian leader’s first trip to North Korea in more than two decades.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia hoped a Putin visit to North Korea, at Mr. Kim’s invitation, would take place “in the foreseeable future,” but he said no date had yet been agreed.

KCNA’s Korean-language report on Sunday suggested Mr. Putin intended to visit soon, but its later English report said he was “willing” to do so at an early date.

During Ms. Choe’s visit, Russia thanked North Korea for its support and solidarity in its Ukraine military operation, KCNA said. Moscow and Pyongyang also expressed serious concern over provocative acts by the United States and its allies against North Korea’s sovereign rights, while agreeing to cooperate in dealing with the regional situation, the report said.

The cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow will be in line with the spirit of the UN Charter and other international laws, it added.

After taking over from Boris Yeltsin in 1999, Mr. Putin visited Pyongyang in July 2000 for a meeting with Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un. The Russian president accepted Mr. Kim’s invite when they met in Russia for a summit in September, Mr. Peskov said previously.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Putin’s growing ties in recent years have worried Washington and its allies who have condemned arms trade between the two countries as a violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang’s transfer of ballistic missiles and other weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine and its continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs demand attention and coordinated action, Jung Pak, US senior official for North Korea, said at a meeting with the nuclear envoys of South Korea and Japan in Seoul on Thursday. — Reuters