North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia ahead of his planned summit with Vladimir Putin, Russian state news agency TASS reported Wednesday.Kim and Putin are set to meet for the first time in the eastern port city of Vladivostok Thursday, but do not plan to sign any agreements or make a joint statement.
The young North Korean leader left the capital of Pyongyang on Wednesday at dawn, traveling by train, North Korean state news agency KCNA reported, as he did for his summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam. The journey from the train station in Khasan, near the North Korean border, to Vladivostok is expected to take about nine hours, according to TASS.
Kim’s visit to North Korea’s northern neighbor comes amid an impasse in the nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington. Though the White House expressed optimism that things were left on good terms after Hanoi, North Korean officials have been less sanguine in public. Diplomats from Pyongyang have speculated about suspending talks with the United States and called for Trump to replace US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with someone “who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
Analysts have speculated that Kim’s meeting with Putin could be a way for the young North Korean leader to assess his diplomatic options outside talks with the United States.
Joining Kim on the trip is the recently promoted Choe Son Hui, one of Pyongyang’s more experienced diplomats who is heavily involved in talks with the United States. NK News, a prominent website specializing in North Korean news, reported that Choe’s promotion makes her the highest-ranking female diplomat in the country’s history.