Just as US-North Korea nuclear negotiations have remained in a stalled low point, with North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un days ago demanding that Secretary of State and former CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, should be replaced for any future negotiations with the US, the Kremlin has confirmed it’s in the “final stages” of preparations to host Kim for talks with President Putin by the end of this month.
“Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are on track to meet by the end of April,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Monday, according to Reuters. The summit was initially revealed last week, in a first such bilateral summit since Kim came to power in 2011.
Peskov stopped short of giving a precise date for the summit, but reaffirmed it will occur within the next week, in the remaining days of April.
“Indeed, the meeting is being prepared and the preparations have entered the final stage. The encounter will take place before the end of April,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
Though the precise venue has also yet to be revealed, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, hinted that the summit would place in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.
Kim Jong Un’s first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin could include a visit to a naval vessel of Russia’s Pacific fleet, according to a Japanese press report.
Kyodo News reported Monday Kim could also attend a performance of the Mariinsky Ballet and stop by the largest aquarium in the Russian Far East during the summit this week. Kim Chang Son, vice chairman of North Korea’s state affairs commission, has been inspecting various sites, according to the report. — UPI
Over the past year two summits between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the first in June 2018 and the second in February 2019, have failed to reach an agreement over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
And now it appears Putin is prepared to step in and capitalize at a moment when Washington’s engagement with Pyongyang is uncertain and in disarray. The question remains: can Putin unlock the stalled nuclear dialogue between the US and Pyongyang?
There’s another key factor to the timing of Kim’s historic trip to Russia, as Asia Times notes: “News analysis of satellite imagery had indicated renewed activity at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and then North Korea earlier this month tested its first new tactical guided weapon with a ‘powerful warhead’ signaling the onset of brinkmanship with Washington.”
Russia has long supported the lifting of North Korea sanctions, and thus Kim is expected to find a more sympathetic ear in Putin.