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Russia President Vladimir Putin makes a rare visit to North Korea



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in North Korea early on Wednesday, after saying the two countries want to cooperate closely to overcome U.S.-led sanctions in the face of intensifying confrontations with Washington.

Putin was met at Pyongyang’s airport by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. They shook hands and embraced, and Kim later joined Putin in his car to personally guide him to Pyongyang’s Kumsusan State Guest House, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said. The agency described their meeting as a historic event that demonstrates the “invincibility and durability” of the two nations’ friendship and unity.

Putin, making his first trip to North Korea in 24 years, said in comments that appeared in its state media hours before he landed that he appreciates the country’s firm support of his military actions in Ukraine. The Kremlin launched a full-scale invasion of the neighboring country in 2022.

He said the countries would continue to “resolutely oppose” what he described as Western ambitions “to hinder the establishment of a multipolar world order based on justice, mutual respect for sovereignty, considering each other’s interests.”

Putin’s visit comes amid growing concerns about an arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that would enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

In the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, the streets were decorated with portraits of Putin and Russian flags. A banner on a building said: “We warmly welcome the President of the Russian Federation.”

Putin also said in his published remarks that Russia and North Korea will develop trade and payment systems “that are not controlled by the West” and jointly oppose sanctions against the countries, which he described as “illegal, unilateral restrictions.”

North Korea is under heavy U.N. Security Council economic sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs, while Russia is also grappling with sanctions by the United States and its Western partners over its aggression in Ukraine.

Putin said the countries will also expand cooperation in tourism, culture and education.

Before heading to North Korea, Putin traveled to Yakutsk, a city in eastern Russia, where he met regional Gov. Aisen Nikolayev, and received briefings on technology and defense-related projects. He also met with young professionals working in Russia’s Far East.

Putin is being accompanied by several top officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Denis Mantrurov, Defense Minister Andrei Belousov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to his foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov. He said a number of documents will be signed during the visit, possibly including an agreement on a comprehensive strategic partnership. (AP)

 


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