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Vladimir Putin receives lavish welcome in North Korea as Kim Jong Un vows closer ties -Dlight News

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Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un have signed a strategic partnership to deepen trade and military ties between Russia and North Korea, vowing to work closely together in the face of international sanctions.

The Russian president said Moscow might develop “military technical co-operation” under the agreement and called on the UN to end its sanctions regime against North Korea.

“These illegitimate actions only serve to undermine the world economic and political system,” Putin said. “We will continue to oppose the practice of suffocating sanctions as an instrument the west has come to use to retain its hegemony.”

Putin thanked Kim for the North Korean leader’s support for his war in Ukraine as he received a lavish welcome on his first visit to the isolated communist country in more than two decades.

Choreographed crowds cheered, waved balloons and danced to a Soviet patriotic song to greet Putin and Kim in Pyongyang’s central square, which was dominated by enormous side-by-side portraits of the two leaders.

The pomp and circumstance amid what Putin said was a “breakthrough” new agreement underscored how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and mutual hostility to the US have brought the two countries closer together.

Putin said the new partnership included a mutual assistance clause that would apply in the case of “aggression” against one of the signatories.

Though Putin did not offer details on what the pact entailed, he compared it to Nato supplies of long-range weaponry and F-16 fighter jets that Ukraine is using for strikes on Russian territory — implying Russia would expand military ties to North Korea in response.

Putin said earlier this month that Moscow was considering supplying long-range weapons to “regions of the world where strikes can be made against sensitive targets” among Ukraine’s western allies, without elaborating.

Western officials say North Korean help for Russia’s war in Ukraine has included supplies of munitions to replace dwindling Russian stocks.

The two leaders exchanged gifts including a Russian-built Aurus limousine for Kim and what the Kremlin said were “fairly artistic” depictions of Putin including “several busts”.

Kim praised Russia’s “important role and mission in preserving the strategic stability and balance in the world” and pledged to strengthen strategic co-operation.

Their meeting, which lasted about two hours, followed Kim’s visit to Russia’s Far East in September, when he and Putin toured Russia’s most advanced space rocket launch site.

Putin said he hoped Kim would make a return visit to Moscow.

US and South Korean officials believe economic exchanges and arms transfers between Russia and North Korea have expanded sharply since their meeting last year.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Russia was desperately trying to cement relations with countries that could provide it with weapons.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who was with Blinken in Washington, told reporters he was concerned about possible Russian support for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Russia had offered technological help for North Korea’s spy satellites in return for North Korea’s agreement to supply nearly 5mn artillery shells, Seoul’s defence minister Shin Won-sik told Bloomberg.

China, which in recent years has been North Korea’s main economic backer, is also thought to be wary about the deepening relationship between Putin and Kim. Their meeting came a day after China and South Korea held their first high-level security meeting in Seoul in nine years and agreed to strengthen relations in a “more mature, healthier direction”.

Experts said Russia’s offer of food and military technology would make it more difficult to entice Pyongyang into denuclearisation talks while more North Korean arms transfers to Russia would strengthen Ukraine’s need for weapons from its allies.

In March, Russia blocked the renewal of a UN panel that monitors compliance with Security Council sanctions against North Korea, resulting in that body’s dissolution.

“Getting back to negotiations with North Korea faces a real uphill battle,” said Jenny Town, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center think-tank.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said more was at stake than the deepening ties between Russia and North Korea.

“The integrity of the international order is in question over the defence of Ukraine and the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions,” he said. “Moscow’s transfer of sensitive military technologies to Pyongyang would not only violate UN sanctions but could also destabilise the Korean peninsula and east Asia.”

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