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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un wraps up visit to Russia, leaves for home by train

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Official news agency says leader’s visit consolidates two countries’ ‘militant unity’ amid Western concerns Pyongyang could supply Moscow with weapons to use in Ukraine

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to President Vladimir Putin, state media said Monday, as he headed home after nearly a week in Russia on a defense-focused trip.

Kim’s tour of Russia’s far east, which began Tuesday, has fanned Western fears that isolated, nuclear-armed Pyongyang could provide Moscow with weapons for its war in Ukraine.

During the trip, North Korea’s leader inspected everything from Russian space rockets to submarines. It also included a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency on Monday said Kim “extended his heartfelt thanks to President Putin and the Russian leadership” for “their special care and cordial hospitality” as he wrapped up the visit.

Kim is heading home “after successfully completing the schedule of his official goodwill visit to the Russian Federation,” KCNA said.

He also wished “Russia prosperity and its people well-being,” the KCNA report added.

In this video grab taken from a handout footage released on September 16, 2023 by Russian Defence Ministry, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un inspects a Russian warplane as he visits Knevichi aerodrome near Vladivostok, Primorsky region. (Russian Defence Ministry / AFP)

North Korea and Russia, historic allies, are both under rafts of global sanctions — Moscow for its Ukraine invasion, Pyongyang for its nuclear weapon tests.

During his visit, Kim said his country would make bilateral ties with Russia its “number one priority,” as he held a rare summit with Putin.

China is currently North Korea’s most crucial ally and benefactor.

Russia is eager for North Korea’s stockpile of artillery shells to be used in Ukraine, while Pyongyang is looking for help with satellite technology and upgrading its Soviet-era military equipment, experts say.

On Wednesday, Putin and Kim held talks at Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome, roughly 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) from Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un examine a launch pad 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, September 13, 2023. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

After the meeting Putin talked up the prospect of greater cooperation with North Korea and the “possibilities” for military ties.

But the Kremlin has said no agreement has or will be signed.

A walrus show

Earlier Sunday, Kim watched a performing walrus at the Primorsky Aquarium, Russia’s largest, accompanied by his officials, many wearing military uniforms.

Kim also “watched white dolphins and other sea animals performing acrobatic feats at the dolphinarium and looked round various places of the aquarium,” KCNA said.

The North Korean leader also praised the facility for “winning a reputation as a popular scientific research base” under Putin’s leadership, it added.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, fourth right in front row, watches a walrus perform at Primorsky Aquarium in Vladivostok, Russian Far East September 17, 2023. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim’s latest visit to Russia will “shine long in history,” KCNA said, and will further consolidate the two countries’ “militant unity” while “opening up a new chapter” of their relations.

While meeting Kim, Putin accepted an invitation to visit North Korea and offered to send one of its nationals to space, which would be a first.

Kim is heading back to North Korea by bulletproof train, with KCNA saying the leader “starts his way home after bringing about a new radical turn in the history of the development of the DPRK-Russia relations.”

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name.

Before departing from Vladivostok, the Pacific port city just over the border, Kim was presented with five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest as gifts from the governor of the Primorye region, which borders China and North Korea.

Source:The Times Of Israel

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