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Kim Jong-un may visit Russia for talks with Putin on arms deal

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may soon travel to Russia to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss a possible arms deal, according to a news report.

In its report published on Monday, The New York Times, citing unidentified “American and allied officials”, said that Kim may travel to Vladivostok next week, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“In a rare foray from his country, Mr. Kim would travel from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, probably by armoured train, to Vladivostok, on the Pacific Coast of Russia, where he would meet with Mr. Putin,” the report said

“Both leaders would be on the campus of Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, which is scheduled to run September 10 to 13,” it added.

The White House National Security Council (NSC) declined to confirm the report when asked, but said Kim may be expecting high-level dialogue in Russia.

“As we have warned publicly, arms negotiations between Russia and the DPRK (North Korea’s official name) are actively advancing,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson told Yonhap News Agency, citing Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s trip to Pyongyang in July that she said sought to “convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia”.

“We have information that Kim Jong-un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” the NSC spokesperson added.

John Kirby, NSC coordinator for strategic communications, earlier warned that Pyongyang may be considering providing additional weapons and military equipment to Russia for use in the latter’s ongoing war in Ukraine, also noting that the leaders of North Korea and Russia may have discussed such deals in letters they have exchanged since Shoigu’s trip to Pyongyang.

A State Department spokesperson said a second group of Russian officials had traveled to North Korea following Shoigu’s visit there for “follow-on discussions about potential arms deals”.

“Any arms deal between the DPRK and Russia would directly violate a number of UN Security Council resolutions,” the spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.

“We urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia. And we are taking action directly by exposing and sanctioning individuals and entities working to facilitate arms deals between Russia and the DPRK,” the official added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Shoigu was earlier reported to have said that Russia and North Korea are considering holding a joint military exercise with China.

The New York Times report said a delegation of some 20 North Korean officials, “including some who oversee security protocols for the leadership”, traveled to Vladivostok in late August, indicating an upcoming trip by Kim.

“One potential stop for Mr. Kim after Vladivostok, an official said, is Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space launch center,” said the report, noting North Korea may be seeking to secure advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines from Russia in exchange of its weapons.

Pyongyang unsuccessfully fired two space launch vehicles each carrying a military reconnaissance satellite in late May and August.

The reclusive regime has said that it will attempt another launch in October.

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