Kim Jong Un hails Russia ties amid Putin’s planned visit

Kim Jong Un hails Russia ties amid Putin’s planned visit
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the far eastern Amur region, Russia on Sept. 13, 2023. North Korean leader Kim hailed the country's relationship with Russia on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, as reports suggest that Russian President Putin will soon visit the isolated country for his third meeting with Kim. AP

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hailed the country’s expanding relationship with Russia on Wednesday, as reports suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin will soon visit the country for his third meeting with Kim.

Military, economic and other cooperation between North Korea and Russia have sharply increased since Kim visited Russia last September for a meeting with Putin. The U.S., South Korea and their partners believe North Korea has supplied artillery, missiles and other conventional weapons to Russia to support its war in Ukraine in return for advanced military technologies and economic aid.

Kim has been pushing to boost partnerships with Russia and China in a bid to strength his regional footing and launch a united front against the United States.

During their September meeting at Russia’s main space launch site, Kim invited the Russian president to visit North Korea at “a convenient time,” and Putin accepted.

On Wednesday, Kim sent Putin a message congratulating Russia on its National Day, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“Thanks to the significant meeting between us at the Vostochney Spaceport in September last year, (North Korea)-Russia friendly and cooperative relations developed into an unbreakable relationship of comrades-in-arms,” Kim said in the message.

Kim’s comments came as media reports said Putin is expected to visit North Korea as early as next week. If realized, it would their third summit meeting. Their first summit happened in Vladivostok in April 2019.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing unidentified diplomatic sources including high-ranking Russian officials, reported Wednesday that Putin is preparing to visit North Korea and Vietnam next week. / AP

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