Putin hosts North Korean FM in Kremlin visit

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Vladimir Putin meets with North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui at the Kremlin on Tuesday. – AFP photo

MOSCOW (Jan 17): Russian President Vladimir Putin met North Korea’s top diplomat in the Kremlin on Tuesday in the latest sign of deepening ties between the two authoritarian states.

The West has accused Moscow and Pyongyang of working together to aid Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, with North Korea believed to have sent hundreds of thousands of artillery shells and other weapons to Russia.

Putin met North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui on Tuesday in Moscow, the Kremlin said. Pictures of the meeting were broadcast on state TV, but the Kremlin did not provide any details of what was discussed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Choe hailed strengthening ties between the countries in a separate meeting.

“We always support North Korea at the United Nations and very much appreciate your similar stance in support for Russia’s position, including on matters related to our special military operation in Ukraine,” Lavrov said in his opening remarks.

Choe said through a translator that the meeting was evidence that “friendly” bilateral ties were “developing in accordance with the plans of the two countries’ leaders”.

The meetings come on the back of a high-profile visit from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Russia last year.

The United States said this month that Russia — short of weapons nearly two years into the conflict — had attacked Ukraine with missiles from North Korea.

Pyongyang is under a slew of international sanctions for its atomic bomb and ballistic missile programmes, which have seen rapid progress under Kim.

Ukraine’s allies have also accused North Korea of supplying Russian forces with large stockpiles of artillery shells and missiles.

Lavrov said the purpose of the meeting was to take stock of agreements clinched during the summit in Russia between Kim and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, without giving details.

The Kremlin said the ministers would later meet Putin to brief the Russian leader on the results of their discussions.

Putin has accepted an invitation to visit North Korea but has not said when he will go. – AFP