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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may soon meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for negotiations on weapons, according to multiple reports on Monday.
Senior administration officials told The Washington Post that Kim plans to make a rare trip out of North Korea to meet with Putin later this month.
The New York Times, citing American and allied officials, reported that Kim would travel from North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang to the Russian port city of Vladivostok — probably by armored train. The duo previously met in the same city, which is not far from North Korea’s border with Russia, in 2019.
With this new round of talks, Putin aims to secure more weapons for its war in Ukraine, such as artillery shells and anti-tank missiles, while Kim wants access to Russia’s advanced technology on nuclear submarines and satellites as well as food assistance for his starving country of roughly 26 million people, officials told the New York Times. Kim could also make other stops, including at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch center and even Moscow.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July and Kim showed off his nation’s banned ballistic missiles. That high-profile trip was reportedly followed by delegations from North Korea and Russia visiting the other country, possibly setting the stage for a new meeting between their leaders.
The White House revealed last week that the United States had intelligence showing that Kim and Putin have exchanged letters. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also told reporters that information showed negotiations were “actively advancing” as Russia seeks munitions from North Korea in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“We have information that Kim Jong-Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson, according to a CNN report on Monday.
“We urge [North Korea] to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia,” Watson also said.
The Biden administration has sought to deter weapons negotiations between Russia and North Korea with volleys of sanctions. Previous intelligence about possible arms transactions that made the media rounds last year led both nations to issue denials.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has approved more than $110 billion in aid to Ukraine as its defenders keep up the fight to try and fend off Russian forces who invaded their country over a year and a half ago.