Kremlin calls visit 'full-fledged' one as West hypes up potential arms deal
The visit to Russia by Kim Jongun, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, will be a "full-fledged" one, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, as Kim will have a comprehensive discussion with President Vladimir Putin.
Kim, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the DPRK, left Pyongyang by train on Sunday afternoon to visit the Russian Federation, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday.
"There will be negotiations between two delegations, and after that, if necessary, the leaders will continue their communication in a one-on-one format," Peskov said.
According to the spokesman, the main topic of the talks will be bilateral relations between the two neighbors. "We will continue to strengthen our friendship," Peskov said.
Russian state news agency RIA reported on Tuesday morning that the special train had arrived in Russia and was currently traveling north through Primorsky Krai in Russia's Far East region.
Peskov said Putin and Kim will meet after the Eastern Economic Forum that runs through Wednesday in Vladivostok, but the report didn't specify when or where.
The city, located about 700 kilometers north of Pyongyang, was also the site of Putin's first meeting with Kim in 2019, The Associated Press reported.
The United States has accused the DPRK of providing Russia with arms as the latter is conducting its special military operation in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang denied such claims.
The latest visit also sparked Western concerns about a potential arms deal between the two countries, Western media reported.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the US will monitor the meeting closely.
"Arms discussions between Russia and the DPRK are expected to continue during Kim Jong-un's trip to Russia," said White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
In Seoul, the Republic of Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-kyu also said on Tuesday that his ministry is closely monitoring whether Pyongyang and Moscow will proceed with negotiations on an arms deal and technology transfer.
At the Vladivostok forum on Tuesday, Putin spoke about economic development in Russia's Far East, but did not mention Kim in the first hour of the forum's plenary session. Earlier, he told forum moderators that Russia was developing weapons based on "new physical principles" but did not give details.
The Russian leader made the remarks as Reuters reported that the US administration is close to approving the shipment of longrange missiles packed with cluster bombs to Ukraine.
More weapons to Kyiv
After seeing the success of cluster munitions delivered in 155mm artillery rounds in recent months, the US is considering shipping either or both Army Tactical Missile Systems that can fly up to 300 km, or Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System missiles with a 70-km range packed with cluster bombs, three US officials said, Reuters reported.
If approved, either option would be available for rapid shipment to Kyiv. The White House declined to comment on the Reuters report.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, the prospects of the supplies of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
The Taurus missile is an air-launched missile that has an operational range of about 500 km.
Ukraine stands ready to fulfill all the tasks needed to speed up the process of getting the Taurus missiles, he said.
At their talks, Baerbock said Germany would provide an additional 20 million euros ($21.4 million) in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Baerbock arrived in Kyiv earlier in the day on her fourth visit since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.