North Korea leader Kim to meet with Putin in Russia, report says

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In this March 2, 2019, photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepares to depart Dong Dang railway station in Dong Dang, Vietnamese border town. North Korea on Tuesday, April 23, confirmed that Kim will soon visit Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Minh Hoang)

By Danielle Wallace, FOSTER KLUG | Fox News

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will soon visit Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency confirmed Tuesday without releasing a set date or location for the meeting.

The meeting may give Kim more leeway in future negotiations with President Trump after their February summit in Vietnam broke down due to disagreement over ridding North Korea of its nuclear arsenal.

The Kremlin announced last week that North Korea’s supreme leader will visit Russia “in the second half of April,” but did not elaborate further. Putin is scheduled to visit China later this month. Some local media suspected Putin will make a stop in the far eastern port city of Vladivostok located near Russia’s border with North Korea to hold a summit with Kim, The Diplomat reported.

Russia is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea’s mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang covets Russia’s electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize its dilapidated industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.

In a speech last week to the Supreme People’s assembly, Kim said he might consider a third summit with Trump if Washington introduced mutually agreeable terms by the end of this year for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program, The Diplomat reported.

Kim and Trump have had two summits, but the latest, in Vietnam in February, collapsed because North Korea wanted more sanctions relief than Washington was willing to give for the amount of disarmament offered by Pyongyang.

The North conducted a “tactical guided weapon” test last week, signaling Kim Jong Un’s growing frustration over diplomacy with Washington. Previous negotiations with the United States prohibited North Korea from conducting medium or long-range ballistic missile tests. While last week’s demonstration did not violate this agreement, it did signal Kim’s willingness to return to the type of missile tests that in 2017 has many in Asia fearing war.

The North also demanded that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the talks, and on Saturday criticized White House national security adviser John Bolton for calling on North Korea to show more evidence of its disarmament commitment before a possible third leaders’ summit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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