North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday at a cosmodrome in Russia.
It is speculated that the two leaders would discuss Pyongyang’s satellite program, and Kim said Moscow has his full backing in its “sacred fight” against the West.
When asked whether the two leaders would talk about obtaining supplies from the North to replenish Moscow’s dwindling stock of weapons and ammunition, Putin said they would discuss “all issues”. Washington and its allies believe defence cooperation is a top agenda item for the meeting.
“That’s why we came here,” Putin said when reporters asked whether Russia would help Kim build satellites. “The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) shows great interest in rocket engineering; they are also trying to develop space.”
At the opening of the meeting with Putin, Kim said it was an unwavering position of the North to further develop its traditional friendship and ties with Russia.
“I find it an honour that the president has prepared an opportunity to meet at a special environment at the launch station which is the heart of your position as a space superpower and given us a deep understanding of the way forward,” Kim said.
Kim also told Putin the Kremlin chief has his full backing in the “sacred fight” Moscow is waging “against the hegemonic forces.”
“We will always support the decisions of President Putin and the Russian leadership… and we will be together in the fight against imperialism,” Kim told Putin, speaking via an interpreter.
The summit between the leaders of the two countries, which have become increasingly isolated internationally, is being watched closely by Washington and allies, who suspect they could agree to trade arms and defence technology.
U.S. and South Korean officials have expressed concern that Kim would provide weapons and ammunition to Russia, which has expended vast stocks in more than 18 months of war in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied such intentions.
The choice to meet at Vostochny Cosmodrome – a symbol of Russia’s ambitions as a space power – was notable, as North Korea twice failed to launch reconnaissance satellites in the past four months.
“I am glad to see you,” Putin said earlier as welcomed him at Vostochny Cosmodrome, a modern space launch facility in the Amur region of Russia’s Far East. “This is our new cosmodrome.”
Kim has made it a top priority to launch a spy satellite, as he pushes his nuclear-armed country to step up the development of ballistic missiles, drones and attack submarines.
Ahead of his meeting with Putin, Kim signed the visitor book in Korean: “The glory to Russia, which gave birth to the first space conquerors, will be immortal.”
Television footage showed Putin giving Kim a tour of the facility. Russian state television said Kim asked Putin a large number of detailed questions.
Russian media said Putin showed Kim around the building where Russia’s new space launch rocket, the Angara, is assembled. The 42.7-metre booster launches payloads into low Earth orbit.