North Korean, Russian leaders may hold summit next week

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is likely to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time next week, amid a stalemate in nuclear talks with the US.

The two leaders’ meeting may take place in the Far East region bordering the northeastern part of North Korea on April 24 before Putin travels to Beijing for an international forum, “One Belt, One Road,” scheduled for April 26-27, Yonhap News Agency said Monday, citing an unidentified diplomatic source.

The summit between Kim and Putin has been widely expected since the Russian government confirmed on April 3 that it has formally invited the North Korean leader to visit the country.

A seven-day visit to Moscow and Vladivostok by Kim Chang-son, the de facto chief of staff of Kim Jong-un, last month also fueled speculation that he was there to prepare logistics for the summit.

The report of a possible summit came after Putin sent a congratulatory letter to Kim on Friday for his election to the country’s highest post, chairman of the State Affairs Commission, at the first session of the 14th Supreme People‘s Assembly. 

“I am confident your activities at the highest level will contribute to the development of the friendly relationship between our two countries and their people, and to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” the Russian president said in the letter.

During a speech at the Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim gave US President Donald Trump a deadline until the end of this year to hold a third summit and urged the Trump administration to change its stance toward the regime and its denuclearization.

On Thursday, Trump said sanctions imposed against North Korea will remain in place until Pyongyang fully dismantles its nuclear program.

North Korea is trying to increase its leverage in future dealings with Washington by tightening cooperation with Moscow while requesting more humanitarian support, experts said. 

“Kim repeatedly called for self-reliant economic development in his speech. To overcome the difficulties created by the sanctions, it needs support from allies -- China and Russia,” said Park Won-gon, an international relations professor at Handong Global University.

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