Kim, Putin vow to seek closer ties at first talks
VLADIVOSTOK- Agence France-Presse
But he insisted that Pyongyang needs guarantees of its security and sovereignty, and took a veiled swipe at Washington for trying to strong-arm North Korea. "We need to... return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world," Putin said.
The two leaders shook hands and shared smiles before heading into one-on-one talks that lasted nearly two hours, longer than expected, at a university campus on an island off the Pacific coast city.
In brief statements before their meeting, both men said they were looking to strengthen ties that date back to the Soviet Union's support for the founder of North Korea, Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung.
The meeting- which Kim described as "a very meaningful exchange"- later expanded to include other officials.
The meeting was Kim's first with another head of state since returning from his Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, which broke down without a deal on North Korea's nuclear arsenal in February.
"We want and we are ready to fully restore relations with Ukraine. But we cannot do this unilaterally," he told.
In addition, he said a decision to give residents of Ukrainian rebel regions fast-track access to Russian passports was no different from what some European Union states were already doing.
Putin said that Poland, Romania and Hungary grant citizenship to their own ethnic kin living outside their borders.
"It caused a negative reaction. That's strange," Putin said.
"How are Russians in Ukraine worse than Romanians, Poles or Hungarians? I don't see anything unusual here."