North Korea confirms Chairman Kim Jong Un to visit Russia for summit with President Putin
A combination of file photos of North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left).
With his Russia visit, North Korea's Kim is seen working to build up foreign support for his economic development plans, since the breakdown of the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February led to stalled talks with Washington on the sanctions relief Pyongyang had sought.
State media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the visit will happen "soon," but did not elaborate the time or the venue.
Putin and Kim are on track to meet by the end of April, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday (Apr 22).
Kim Jong Un's chief aide, Kim Chang Son, was seen in Vlapostok on Sunday according to South Korean news agency Yonhap, leading to speculation that the Putin-Kim summit will be held in the city around Apr 24-25.
NK News, a group that follows North Korea, showed photos on its website on Monday of preparations underway at Vlapostok's Far Eastern Federal University, likely to host part of the summit, with workers installing North Korean and Russian flags.
After the diplomatic failure at the Hanoi summit, Kim is likely looking to prove that he is still being sought after by world leaders, and that he has more options, said Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vlapostok.
"Kim does not want to look too dependent on Washington, Beijing and Seoul," he said. "As for Russia, the Putin-Kim summit will reaffirm Moscow's place as a major player on the Korean Peninsula. This meeting is important for Russian international prestige."