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Monday 20 May 2019

Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia for summit with Putin

The North Korean leader arrived by train in Vladivostok.

Kim Jong Un boards a train at Khasan station (Primorsky Regional Administration Press Service via AP)
Kim Jong Un boards a train at Khasan station (Primorsky Regional Administration Press Service via AP)

By Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia by train, a day before his much-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Kim, dressed in a black coat and hat, met local officials at Russia’s Khasan train station near the border with North Korea.

The official website of the Primorye governor released pictures of Mr Kim stepping off the train and being given the traditional Russian bread and salt at the station.

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Kim Jong Un arrives in Vladivostok (RU-RTR Russian Television/AP)

Speaking to Russia’s state-owned Rossiya-24, Mr Kim said on arrival that he is hoping for a “successful and useful” visit and would like to discuss “settlement of the situation in the Korean peninsula” as well as bilateral ties with Russia.

He then sat down with local officials as well as a Russian deputy foreign minister before setting off to the Pacific port city of Vladivostok for a summit with Mr Putin on Thursday.

He is the first North Korean leader to travel to Russia since his late father, Kim Jong Il, visited in 2011.

“I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s been seven years since I took the helm, and I’ve only just managed to visit.”

Mr Kim evoked his father’s “great love for Russia” and said he intends to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Earlier on Wednesday, the North’s state media confirmed his departure aboard his khaki-green armoured train from an undisclosed location in North Korea.

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Kim Jong Un is welcomed by girls clad in traditional Russian clothes (Primorsky Regional Administration Press Service/AP)

Mr Kim arrived later in Vladivostok for a dinner reception hosted by Russian deputy prime minister Yuri Trutnev, according to South Korean media. After his summit with Mr Putin, Mr Kim may tour neighbouring facilities or landmarks before departing for home on Friday, the reports said.

Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told Russian media the summit will focus on North Korea’s nuclear programme, noting that Moscow will seek to “consolidate the positive trends” stemming from Donald Trump’s meetings with Mr Kim.

In February, Mr Kim’s second summit with the US president in Hanoi ended without agreement because of disputes over US-led sanctions. There have since been no publicly known high-level contacts between the US and North Korea, although both sides say they are still open to a third summit.

Mr Kim wants the US to ease the sanctions to reciprocate some partial disarmament steps he took last year, but the US maintains the sanctions will stay in place until Pyongyang takes more significant denuclearisation steps.

Press Association

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