North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia “in the coming days” after receiving an invite from Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said.
“At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Chairman of State Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will pay an official visit to the Russian Federation in the coming days,” it said in a statement.
Earlier, Reuters reported quoting South Korean media that Kim Jong Un appeared to have left aboard a special train bound for Russia. Russia’s Interfax news agency also said earlier that Kim Jong Un was expected to visit Russia’s far east “in the coming days”.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang late on Sunday and would meet Putin as early as Tuesday. The broadcaster YTN reported that the special train would take Kim to North Korea’s northeastern border with Russia and the summit was likely to be on Tuesday or Wednesday. Both reports cited unnamed senior South Korean government sources.
Japanese media reported security was being stepped up at the main train station in the Russian border city of Khasan where Kim is expected to enter Russia.
Recent overtures have signalled closer military between the nuclear-armed North Korea and Russia amid Ukraine war.
The United States has also said that talks are advancing actively for North Korea to supply arms to Russia. The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin would be in the far eastern city of Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum but said it had “nothing to say” about a possible visit by Kim.
North Korea has openly supported Russia since the invasion of Ukraine last year while the Russian president pledged last week to “expand bilateral ties in all respects in a planned way by pooling efforts”. Kim Jong Un’s last trip abroad in 2019 was also to Vladivostok for his first summit with Vladimir Putin after the collapse of North Korea’s nuclear disarmament talks with former US president Donald Trump.