VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin met Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying the summit should help plan joint efforts to finally resolve a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Speaking at the opening talks at a university on the Russky Island across a bridge from Vladivostok, Putin expressed confidence that Kim’s visit will “help better understand what should be done to settle the situation on the Korean Peninsula, what we can do together, what Russia can do to support the positive processes going on now.”
Kim’s first ever trip to Russia comes about two months after his second summit with President Donald Trump failed because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North. Putin meanwhile wants to expand Russia’s reach in the region and get more leverage with Washington.
Kim noted that with the world’s attention now concentrated on the Korean Peninsula, “I think we will have a very meaningful dialogue on sharing our opinions on this matter while also jointly apprising and studying it.”
He also congratulated the Russian leader on his reelection to another six-year term last year.
In February, Trump-Kim talks ended with no agreement because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions. There have since been no publicly known high-level 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 and 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.
Kim arrived in Vladivostok Wednesday aboard an armored train
In a statement to Russian state television, Kim said he was hoping that his first visit to Russia would “successful and useful.” He evoked his father’s “great love for Russia” and said that he intends to strengthen ties between the two countries. The late Kim Jong Il made three trips to Russia, last time in 2011.
Like the U.S., Russia strongly opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear bid. Putin has welcomed Trump’s meetings with Kim, but also urged the U.S. to do more to assuage Pyongyang’s security concerns.
Speaking before the talks, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said that Russia will seek to “consolidate the positive trends” stemming from Trump-Kim meetings. He noted that the Kremlin would try to help “create preconditions and a favorable atmosphere for reaching solid agreements on the problem of the Korean Peninsula.”
Vladivostok, a city of more than half a million on the Sea of Japan, faced gridlock on its roads as traffic was blocked in the city center due to Kim’s visit. The authorities have temporarily closed the waters around Russky Island to all maritime traffic.