Putin hosts Kim for talks on North Korean nuclear standoff
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for talks Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying the summit should help plan joint efforts to resolve a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Speaking at the start of the talks at a university on the Russky Island across a bridge from Vladivostok, Putin voiced confidence that Kim’s visit will “help better understand what should be done to settle the situation on the Korean Peninsula, what we can do together, what Russia can do to support the positive processes going on now.”
Kim’s first trip to Russia comes about two months after his second summit with President Donald Trump failed because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North. Putin meanwhile wants to expand Russia’s clout in the region and get more leverage with Washington.
“We welcome your efforts to develop an inter-Korean dialogue and normalize North Korea’s relations with the United States,” Putin told Kim.
For his part, Kim noted that with the world’s attention now concentrated on the Korean Peninsula, “I think we will have a very meaningful dialogue on sharing our opinions on this matter while also jointly apprising and studying it.”
He also congratulated the Russian leader on his reelection to another six-year term last year.
In February, Trump-Kim talks ended without any agreement because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions. There have since been no publicly known high-level contacts between the U.S. and North Korea, although both sides say they are still open to a third summit.
Kim wants the U.S. to ease the sanctions to reciprocate for some partial disarmament steps he took last year. But the U.S. maintains the sanctions will stay in place until North Korea makes more significant denuclearization moves.
North Korea has increasingly expressed frustration at the deadlocked negotiations. Last week, it tested a new weapon and demanded that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the nuclear talks.
Kim arrived in Vladivostok Wednesday aboard an armored train, telling Russian state television that he was hoping that his first visit to Russia would “successful and useful.”
He evoked his father’s “great love for Russia” and said that he intends to strengthen ties between the two countries. The late Kim Jong Il made three trips to Russia, last time in 2011.
Like the U.S., Russia has strongly opposed Pyongyang’s nuclear bid. Putin has welcomed Trump’s meetings with Kim, but urged the U.S. to do more to assuage Pyongyang’s security concerns.
Speaking before the talks, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said that Russia will seek to “consolidate the positive trends” stemming from Trump-Kim meetings.
He noted that the Kremlin would try to help “create preconditions and a favorable atmosphere for reaching solid agreements on the problem of the Korean Peninsula.” /gsg
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