Kim Jong Un leaves North Korea on train to meet Putin, US warns against weapon selling
Pyongyang : Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to hold a meeting in Russia, as confirmed by both nations. Kim embarked on his journey to Russia via his armored train, signaling potential "increased military collaboration" between Pyongyang and Moscow. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea's official news outlet, officially reported Kim's departure from Pyongyang to Russia on Sunday afternoon. He was accompanied by prominent officials from North Korea's ruling party and armed forces, according to Yonhap news agency.
KCNA announced that Kim had "departed on Sunday afternoon by train to visit the Russian Federation" but did not specify whether the train had crossed the border yet. It also stated that Kim would "meet and hold discussions with Comrade Putin during his visit." The Kremlin also confirmed that Kim would visit Russia "in the upcoming days" at Putin's invitation, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Photographs released by North Korea's state media depicted Kim, accompanied by Pyongyang's Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui and high-ranking military figures Ri Pyong-chol and Pak Jong-chon. State media showcased images of Kim walking past honor guards and crowds of civilians holding the national flag and flowers, as well as waving from his green-and-yellow armored train before its departure.
The Korean Central News Agency reported that a group of senior officials was present at the station to bid the leader a "warm farewell." However, citing unnamed Russian regional officials, Japanese broadcaster TBS reported that Kim's train had crossed the border and arrived in the border town of Khasan.
In a brief statement on its website, the Kremlin announced that the visit was at Putin's invitation and would occur "in the coming days." KCNA indicated that the leaders would meet but did not specify when or where the meeting would take place.
One potential location for the summit is the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, where Putin had arrived on Monday to participate in an international forum that extended until Wednesday, according to Russia's TASS news agency. Vladivostok is approximately 425 miles (680 kilometers) north of Pyongyang and was also where Putin and Kim had their first meeting in 2019.
This trip marks Kim's first foreign journey since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led North Korea to impose stringent border controls for over three years to protect its limited healthcare infrastructure. While Kim has displayed a preference for using airplanes compared to his father, who was averse to flying, he has utilized his personal train for previous meetings with Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and former U.S. President Donald Trump, symbolizing the continuation of his family's dynastic rule.
Meanwhile, the United States has issued an official statement urging North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to refrain from selling arms to Russia. A White House statement stated, "We call on North Korea to uphold its commitments and refrain from selling arms to Russia."