|North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Thursday, before their first ever summit. AP-Yonhap|
|Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchange gifts following their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 25. AFP|
|Artists perform during a reception after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky Island in Vladivostok, Russia, April 25. AP|
NK leader wants security guarantee for denuclearization
By Lee Min-hyung
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un participated in his first-ever summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Thursday, that addressed denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula among other topics.
In a post-summit press conference, Putin said that what Kim Jong-un wants is a security guarantee before realizing nuclear disarmament on the peninsula.
Putin said a resumption of the six-party talks could be an effective solution to discuss this issue, as Pyongyang believes Washington and Seoul cannot guarantee the security of the Kim regime. The six-party nuclear talks, which have been stalled for years, refer to multilateral negotiations among six countries, China, Japan, Russia, the United States, and the two Koreas. Established in 2003, they discussed peaceful methods for the North's nuclear disarmament.
"We believe the six-party talks need to be resumed when discussing a security guarantee for North Korea," Putin said.
The summit comes at a pivotal moment when the North needs outside support to tackle its deadlocked nuclear diplomacy with the United States and prop up its sanctions-hit economy.
"All eyes from across the world are focused on the issue of the Korean Peninsula, and we are going to exchange each other's views on that and continue joining hands to settle the issue," Kim said in his pre-summit opening remarks at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.
Observers note that the "issue" was the almost year-long denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
Kim is likely to have asked for Putin to support his approach of seeking partial sanctions relief in exchange for phased nuclear disarmament steps.
This, however, hit a snag at the February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between President Donald Trump and Kim after the U.S. leader refused to accept the approach during their second face-to-face meeting.
Kim spoke highly of the summit with Putin, saying the meeting will help both sides upgrade their diplomatic relation in a more stable manner.
"I expect the summit to be very useful in helping the two countries, which have shared a long history and tradition of friendship, develop bilateral relations in a sound and solid way.
Putin also welcomed Kim's Russia visit and pledged to make joint efforts with the North to resolve the uncertain political circumstance on the peninsula.
"I look forward to finding a good solution to the state of affairs on the peninsula," Putin said.
He went on to deliver words of encouragement for Kim's efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with the South and the U.S.
"I am aware and support that Kim is making a lot of efforts to normalize dialogue between the two Koreas," the Russian president said. He also praised Kim for doing his best to open diplomatic relations with the U.S.
Aside from the political agenda, Putin also expressed his willingness to expand exchanges with the North with the focus on trade, their economies and human resources.
"We have a lot of work to do to develop bilateral relations in trade and exchanges of human resources," Putin said.
After the two-hour-long meeting, the summit was expanded to other officials, including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui.
Before starting the expanded summit, Kim said the North and Russia will continue to enhance their strategic alliance for regional peace and stability.
The Russian government made summit overtures to Kim from last year, but the North gave nor response until recently.
Kim appeared to have accepted the invitation to come up with countermeasures to the recent Hanoi fiasco, as Russia has sided with the North in sanctions-related issues.
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Moscow has in recent months argued that international society needs to grant a partial easing of sanctions on the North following the latter's halting of nuclear and missile tests after Kim's pledge for denuclearization of the peninsula last year.