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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

‘Glad to see you’: Putin, Kim meet at Russia’s most modern space rocket launch site

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting at the Vostochny Сosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, September 13, 2023. — Reuters
  • Putin welcomes Kim at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome.
  • Both leaders greet each other grinning broadly.
  • North Korea-Russia summit being closely monitored by US.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Russia’s Far East at a modern space launch facility for talks that the US suspects will involve defence cooperation.

Meanwhile, as North Korea’s leader was busy meeting his friend, his military back home fired two ballistic missiles, Reuters reported.

“I am glad to see you,” Putin said as he shook Kim’s hand for around 40 seconds, welcoming him at Vostochny Cosmodrome, a modern space launch facility in the Amur region of Russia’s Far East. “This is our new cosmodrome.”

Kim, speaking through an interpreter, thanked Putin for the invitation and for the warmth of his reception.

The summit between North Korea and Russia is being closely monitored by Washington and its allies, who are concerned about a potential agreement on trade arms and defence technology.

US and South Korean officials have expressed concerns about Kim Jong-Un discussing weapons and ammunition supply to Russia, which has exhausted vast stocks in Ukraine. However, Moscow and Pyongyang have denied such intentions.

Given North Korea’s two failed attempts to launch spy satellites in the previous four months, it was significant that the meeting was held at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a representation of Russia’s aspirations to become a space power.

In a footage released by the RIA news agency, Kim and Putin are seen shaking hands grinning broadly, standing outside, surrounded by security personnel and Russian media representatives, before walking together into a gleaming glass-walled building.

Television footage showed Putin giving Kim a tour of the facility.

The military of South Korea and the government of Japan said that North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast from a location close to the capital, Pyongyang, hours before the scheduled summit between the two friends.

Analysts noted that it was the first such launch by the North while Kim was away.

In his twelve years in leadership, Kim has only seven times left the nation, all of which were in 2018 and 2019. He twice briefly crossed the inter-Korean border as well.

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