Kremlin: Putin ‘Gratefully Accepted’ Kim’s Invitation to Visit North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, welcomes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky,Russia, Wednesday. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has “gratefully accepted” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s invitation to visit his country, the Kremlin said on Thursday, after the two men held a rare summit in Russia’s Far East.

The summit has stoked U.S. concerns that a revived Moscow-Pyongyang axis could bolster Russia’s military in Ukraine and provide Kim with sensitive missile technology.

“Kim Jong Un invited Putin to visit North Korea (and) Putin gratefully accepted this invitation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was expected to visit Pyongyang next month.

“These high-level contacts were very, very constructive. North Korea is our neighbor, and as with other neighbors, Russia intends to build and develop good relations and mutually beneficial cooperation based on mutual respect,” Peskov said.

In Wednesday’s talks, Kim and Putin discussed military matters, the war in Ukraine and Russian help for North Korea’s satellite programme. Putin also showed Kim around Russia’s most modern space launch facility.

Asked whether the two leaders had exchanged gifts, Peskov said Putin had given Kim a glove from a spacesuit “that had been in space several times” and a Russian-made rifle. In turn, Kim had given Putin a North Korean-made gun, among other gifts, Peskov added.

Putin, now back in Moscow, briefed Russia’s Security Council earlier on Thursday on his talks with Kim, Peskov said. The North Korean leader’s visit to Russia will continue for several more days, he added, without elaborating.

Putin had previously said that Kim on Thursday would visit military and civilian aviation factories in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and inspect Russia’s Pacific fleet in Vladivostok.

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