Valdimir Putin, Kim Jong Un begin first official meeting in Vladivostok
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Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday began their first official meeting in
the Far Eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok.
"I'm happy to see you here," Putin told Kim, adding that he hoped he
could help resolve the dispute between the US and North Korea over
Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
"We welcome your efforts on the development of inter-Korean dialogue
and on the normalization of North Korean-US relations," he added.
The two leaders were pictured shaking hands at the beginning of their
meeting under tight security on Russky island, part of a university
campus, before sitting down and smiling into the waiting cameras.
After the ceremonial greeting the two leaders were to hold one-on-one
talks followed by expanded talks, according to the Russian news
agency TASS. No formal statement or declaration were expected.
The talks were also to focus on economic cooperation between the two
They come as North Korea seeks allies after the failure of a summit
between US President Donald Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February.
Moscow and Pyongyang have traditionally had good relations.
The Washington wants Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons while
North Korea is seeking the lifting of international sanctions which
have stifled its economy.
However little progress has been made since Trump and Kim first met
in Singapore last year and tensions have continued to simmer.
North Korea this month demanded that US Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo be replaced as chief negotiator in their talks, saying he
should be replaced with someone "more mature."
And on Thursday Pyongyang threatened a "corresponding response" from
its army after the US and South Korea launched a two-week long series
of joint airforce drills earlier this week.
Pyongyang has long viewed joint military exercises by the two
countries as a provocation and a rehearsal for an invasion of North
The latest drills were an "outright challenge" to the Panmunjom peace
declaration signed by North and South Korean leaders last year, a
spokesman from Pyongyang's reunification committee was quoted as
saying by state-run news agency KCNA.