Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin kick off Vladivostok summit" width="740" />
“Our ties have roots which go deep into history,” Kim told Putin at the beginning of their first ever summit, where one of the key topics is expected to be the North’s denuclearization talks with the United States.
“I hope these talks will be an important milestone,” he added.
In turn, Russia’s president said his country was backing Kim’s effort to normalize its relations with the US and South Korea.
Kim’s visit “will help us to better understand how we can resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula and what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are currently taking place,” Putin said.
Observers believe the two leaders would also discuss some 10,000 North Korean laborers who are currently working in Russia, and are due to leave the country by the end of the year due to international sanctions against Pyongyang. The workers are an important source of foreign currency for the impoverished Asian country. Kim is likely to also ask Russia for more economic aid.
Putin to brief journalists
The Thursday meeting is the first ever face-to-face meeting between the two leaders and Kim’s first official visit to Russia. It comes some two months after his long-awaited talks with US President Donald Trump broke down in Vietnam.
Kim had arrived in the Russian border town of Hasan in his armored train on Wednesday before continuing his journey to Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok. He and Putin are meeting at the university campus on the city’s Russky Island.
Russia said it was unlikely both sides would issue a joint statement or sign any documents after the summit, but Putin is expected to address journalists after the Thursday talks. Kim is scheduled to leave Vladivostok on Friday.
While North Korea regards China as its key ally, the beginnings of the Communist state saw Pyongyang heavily reliant of the Soviet Union. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, the first and “eternal” president Kim Il Sung, was installed by the Soviet leadership in 1948.