Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un hold "meaningful" talks in Russia's Vladivostok city, two months after Kim's summit with US President Trump ended in disagreement over decades-old nuclear row.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the future US attitude, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday.
Kim’s remarks are seen as keeping pressure on the US to be “more flexible” in accepting Pyongyang’s demands to ease sanctions, compared to the US stance during the collapsed second US-North Korea summit in February in Hanoi, as he said earlier this month.
Kim said at the time he will wait “till the end of this year” for the United States to change its mind.
“The situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state as the US took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” KCNA reported Kim saying, using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
TRT World' Lucy Taylor explains the significance of the summit.
Kim invited Putin to North Korea at a convenient time and Putin accepted, KCNA said.
The first face-to-face talks between Putin and Kim, held on an island off the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok on Thursday, did not appear to have yielded any major breakthrough.
The two leaders had an in-depth discussion on the ways for the two countries to promote the strategic communication and tactical collaboration in the course of ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the region, KCNA said.
Putin said afterward he thought a deal on Pyongyang’s nuclear program was possible and that the way to get there was to move forward step-by-step in order to build trust.
But any US guarantees might need to be supported by the other nations involved in previous six-way talks on the nuclear issue, Putin said, which was seen as an attempt to use the summit to strengthen Russia’s diplomatic clout as a global player.
Both Russia and North Korea agreed to take positive measures in several fields in order to further cooperate in trade, economy, science and technology, KCNA said.
'Very meaningful exchange'
Kim noted that they had a "very meaningful exchange."
"The reason we visited Russia this time is to meet and share opinions with your excellency, President Putin, and also share views on the Korean Peninsula and regional political situation, which has garnered the urgent attention of the world, and also hold deep discussions on strategic ways to pursue stability in the regional political situation and on the matters of jointly managing the situation," Kim said.
In February, Trump-Kim talks ended without any 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.
Kim wants the US to ease the sanctions to reciprocate for some partial disarmament steps he took last year. But the US maintains the sanctions will stay in place until North Korea makes more significant denuclearisation moves.
North Korea has increasingly expressed frustration at the deadlocked negotiations. Last week, it tested a new weapon and demanded that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the nuclear talks.
Kim evoked his father's "great love for Russia" and said that he intends to strengthen ties between the two countries. The late Kim Jong-il made three trips to Russia, last time in 2011.
Like the US, Russia has strongly opposed Pyongyang's nuclear bid. Putin has welcomed Trump's meetings with Kim, but urged the US to do more to assuage Pyongyang's security concerns.
Ahead of the talks, Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said that Russia will seek to "consolidate the positive trends" stemming from Trump-Kim meetings. He noted that the Kremlin would try to help "create preconditions and a favourable atmosphere for reaching solid agreements on the problem of the Korean Peninsula."
TRT World's Reagan Des Vignes has more on the story.
Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that Putin will likely encourage Kim to continue constructive talks with the US, reflecting Russia's own worry about the North nuclear and missile programmes.
"Russia can't be expected to side with North Korea and, let's say, support the North Koreans all the way in the Security Council where Russia is a veto wielding member and where all sanctions imposed on North Korea require Russia's approval," he said.
Trenin emphasised that Moscow is skeptical that the North could be persuaded to fully abandon its nuclear weapons, considering it a "mission impossible."
"North Korea will not give up the only guarantee of the survival of the North Korean state and its regime," Trenin said.
Russia would also like to gain broader access to North Korea's mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang, for its part, covets Russia's electricity supplies and investment to modernise its dilapidated Soviet-built industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.
Vladivostok, a city of more than half a million on the Sea of Japan, faced gridlock on its roads as traffic was blocked in the city centre due to Kim's visit. The authorities have temporarily closed the waters around Russky Island to all maritime traffic.