WASHINGTON — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un plans to travel to Russia this month to meet President Vladimir Putin, a US official has told the BBC’s US partner CBS.
The two leaders will discuss the possibility of North Korea providing Moscow with weapons to support its war in Ukraine, the official said.
The exact location of the planned meeting is not clear. Kim is most likely to travel by armored train, sources told the New York Times.
The possible meeting comes after the White House said it had new information that arms negotiations between the two countries are “actively advancing”.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Russia’s defense minister recently travelled to North Korea to “try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition” to Russia.
Putin and Kim have since exchanged letters “pledging to increase their bilateral cooperation”, he said.
“We urge the DPRK 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,” Kirby said, using an acronym for the North.
He warned that the US would take action, including imposing sanctions, if North Korea does supply Russia with weapons, he said.
The meeting could take place in the city of Vladivostok, on the east coast of Russia, the New York Times reports.
Pyongyang and Moscow have both previously denied that the North is supplying Russia with arms for use in its war in Ukraine.
John Everard, who served as UK ambassador to North Korea between 2006 and 2008, told the BBC that the fact that the possible visit had now become public “is a strong reason why the visit is now unlikely to take place”.
“Kim Jung Un is completely paranoid about his personal security. He goes to great lengths to keep his movements secret and if it’s known that he’s planning to go to Vladivostok to meet President Putin, he’s likely just to cancel the whole thing.”
Pyongyang knows that Moscow is “desperate” for munitions, and the price that North Korea will ask for them will be “eye-wateringly high”, he added. — BBC