Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kim in Vladivostok for Putin summit




Kim in Vladivostok for Putin summit

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Flags of Russia and North Korea are seen fixed on lamp posts on Russky island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on Tuesday. AFP

Kim in Vladivostok for Putin summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday for a first summit with Vladimir Putin, as Pyongyang seeks support in its nuclear deadlock with the US.

The talks, organised in secret and announced at the last minute, will be Kim’s first face-to-face meeting with another head of state since negotiations with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi collapsed in February.

Kim’s armoured train arrived in the afternoon at the Tsarist-era train station in Vladivostok and he stepped out onto a red carpet before making his way outside to be received by an honour guard.

“I hope that this visit will be successful and useful,” Kim told Russian television in the Russian town of Khasan where his train crossed the border.

“I hope that during the talks … I will be able to have concrete discussions on resolving situations on the Korean Peninsula and on the development of our bilateral relationship,” Kim said.

Putin was due to arrive in Vladivostok on Thursday, then fly on after the talks for another summit in Beijing.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) earlier reported Kim’s departure by train, naming among his entourage foreign minister Ri Yong-Ho.

The train crossed the Tumen river on Wednesday and arrived in Khasan, where women in folk costumes welcomed Kim with bread and salt in a traditional greeting.

Kim’s predecessors as leader, his father and grandfather, also stopped there on their trips to neighbouring Russia.

At Khasan station a small wooden building known as the House of Kim Il-Sung commemorates Russian-Korean friendship.

North Korean flags flying

Russian and North Korean flags were already flying on lamp posts on Tuesday on Vladivostok’s Russky island, where the summit is expected to take place at a university campus.

Kim plans to stay on in Vladivostok on Friday for a series of cultural events, including a ballet and a visit to the city’s aquarium, Russian media reported.

The talks follow repeated invitations from Putin since Kim embarked on his diplomatic overtures last year.

Since March last year, the formerly reclusive North Korean leader has held four meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three with the South’s Moon Jae-in, two with Trump and one with Vietnam’s president.

Analysts say he is now looking for wider international support in his standoff with Washington, while Moscow is keen to inject itself into another global flashpoint.

In Hanoi, the North demanded immediate relief from the sanctions imposed on it over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, but the talks broke down in disagreement over what Pyongyang was prepared to give up in return.

North Korea last week launched a blistering attack on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, insisting he be removed from the negotiations just hours after announcing it had carried out a new weapons test.

Moscow has already called for the sanctions to be eased, while the US has accused it of trying to help Pyongyang evade some of the measures – accusations Russia denies.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told a briefing on Tuesday: “The focus will be on a political and diplomatic solution to the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula.”

“Russia intends to help consolidate positive trends in every way,” he said, but added that no joint statement or signing of agreements was planned.

Cold War ties

KCNA did not mention whether Kim’s wife Ri Sol-Ju or his sister and close aide Kim Yo-Jong were accompanying him.

Moscow was a crucial backer of Pyongyang for decades and their ties go back to the founding of North Korea, when the Soviet Union installed Kim’s grandfather Kim Il-Sung as leader.

The Soviet Union reduced funding to the North as it began to seek reconciliation with Seoul in the 1980s, but Pyongyang was hit hard by its demise in 1991.

Soon after his first election as Russian president, Putin sought to normalise relations and met Kim Jong-Il – the current leader’s father and predecessor – three times.

The first of those meetings was in Pyongyang in 2000, when Putin became the first Russian leader to visit the North.

China has since cemented its role as the isolated North’s most important ally, its largest trading partner and crucial fuel supplier, and analysts say Kim could be looking to balance Beijing’s influence.

While ties between Russia and the North have remained cordial, the last meeting between their leaders came in 2011, when Kim Jong-Il told then-president Dmitry Medvedev that he was prepared to renounce nuclear testing.

His son has since overseen by far the country’s most powerful blast to date, and the launch of missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Police arrest 29 Chinese for kidnapping in capital

    Phnom Penh Military Police arrested 29 Chinese nationals on kidnapping charges on Wednesday. The suspects are said to have abducted three other Chinese nationals from a hotel in Chaktomuk commune, Daun Penh district. The operation took place on Wednesday and was led by two deputy commanders –

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia