Kim, Putin vow to seek closer ties at first talks

Kim, Putin vow to seek closer ties at first talks

VLADIVOSTOK- Agence France-Presse
Kim, Putin vow to seek closer ties at first talks

Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un met for their first-ever summit on April 25, vowing to seek closer ties as they look to counter U.S. influence.

Putin emerged from the talks saying that like the United States, Russia supports efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent nuclear conflicts.

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 summit in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok came with Kim locked in a nuclear stand-off with Washington and Putin keen to put Moscow forward as a player in another global flashpoint.

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.

Kim said he hoped to turn the modern relationship with Moscow into a "more stable and sound one" while Putin said the visit would give a boost to diplomatic and economic ties.

Putin said he supported Kim's efforts to normalize relations with the United States and hoped to find out "what Russian can do" to help with the issue of denuclearization.              

The meeting- which Kim described as "a very meaningful exchange"- later expanded to include other officials.         

About five hours after he arrived, Kim left the campus following a long final handshake with Putin, waving through the window of his black limousine as it drove away.

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.

Putin then addressed reporters alone, saying he would fill in Washington on the results of the talks.             

"There are no secrets here, no conspiracies... Chairman Kim himself asked us to inform the American side of our position," said Putin, who was due to fly on to Beijing for another summit.

Putin also said that Russia was ready to restore full relations with Kiev, after a Ukraine presidential election brought in political novice Volodymyr Zelensky.

"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."

nuclear talks,