Kim seeks Putin's help in US standoff

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 25 Apr 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vladivostok yesterday for a first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Pyongyang seeks support in its nuclear deadlock with the United States.

The talks, organized in secret and announced at the last minute, will be Kim's first face-to-face meeting with another head of state since negotiations with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi collapsed in February.

"I hope that this visit will be successful and useful," said Kim, who traveled to Vladivostok in his armored train. "I hope that during the talks ... I will be able to have concrete discussions on resolving situations on the Korean Peninsula and on the development of our bilateral relationship."

Putin was due to arrive there today, then fly on after the talks for another summit in Beijing.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency earlier reported Kim's departure by train, naming among his entourage foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.

The train crossed the Tumen river and arrived in the border town of Khasan, where women in folk costumes welcomed Kim with bread and salt in a traditional greeting. Kim's predecessors as leader - his father and grandfather - also stopped in Khasan on their trips to neighboring Russia.

Kim plans to stay on in Vladivostok tomorrow for a series of cultural events, including a ballet and a visit to the city's aquarium, Russian media reported.

The talks follow repeated invitations from Putin since Kim embarked on his diplomatic overtures last year.

Since March 2018, the formerly reclusive leader has held four meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, three with the South's Moon Jae In, two with Trump, and one with Vietnam's president Nguyen Phu Trong.

Analysts say Kim is now looking for wider global support in his standoff with Washington.

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