Smiling Kim arrives by train in Russia for his Putin summit
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — A smiling and upbeat Kim Jong Un arrived Wednesday in fareastern Russia aboard an armored train for a much-anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that comes amid deadlocked global diplomacy over the North Korean leader’s nuclear program.
Both leaders have high hopes for their first one-on-one meeting: Kim for a win after his failed second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump and Putin for a chance to raise Moscow’s clout in the region and gain more leverage with Washington.
Speaking to Russia’s stateowned Rossiya-24, Kim said he was hoping for a “successful and useful” visit and would like to discuss with Putin the “settlement of the situation in the Korean Peninsula” as well as bilateral ties with Russia.
It was Kim’s first visit to Russia as North Korean leader; his late father, Kim Jong Il, visited Russia in 2011. The North Korean leader evoked his father’s “great love for Russia” and said that he intends to strengthen ties between the two countries.
“I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it,” Kim was quoted as saying at his first stop, Russia’s Khasan train station, near the border with North Korea. “It’s been seven years since I took the helm, and I’ve only just managed to visit.”
He then traveled on to the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok, the site of Thursday’s summit, where he was greeted by a military orchestra as he stepped out of his khakigreen armored train. Dressed in a black coat and clutching a black fedora, he then got into his personal limousine, which travels with him, and drove away.
Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, told Russian media the Putin-Kim summit would focus on North Korea’s nuclear program, noting that Russia will seek to “consolidate the positive trends” stemming from Trump’s meetings with Kim.
In February, Kim’s second summit with Trump in Hanoi ended without any agreement because of disputes over U.S.led sanctions. There have since been no publicly known highlevel contacts between the U.S. and North Korea, although both sides say they are still open to a third summit.
Kim wants the U.S. to ease the sanctions to reciprocate for some partial disarmament steps he took last year. But the U.S. maintains the sanctions will stay in place until North Korea makes more significant denuclearization moves.
Some experts say Kim could try to bolster his country’s ties with Russia and China. Others say it’s not clear how big of a role Russia can play in efforts to restart the nuclear negotiations. Still, the summit could allow Putin to try to increase his influence in regional politics and the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program.
In this photo released by the press office of the administration of Primorsky Krai region, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, center left, surrounded by Russian and North Korea’s officials walks, after arriving in Vladivostok, Russia, Wednesday.