Jong-un’s envoy meets with Putin in Moscow

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Jong-un’s envoy meets with Putin in Moscow


A special envoy sent by North Korean leader met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and delivered a letter from the leader Kim Jong-un, the Russian president’s office said.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Choe Ryong-hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, handed Putin a message from Kim, Peskov said, without providing further details. The meeting took place on Tuesday.

The Kremlin said the meeting was not open to the press, and no press conference was arranged afterward.

The North Korean leader’s special envoy was able to sit down with Putin after a series of vicissitudes.

After its takeoff from Pyongyang on Monday, the airplane carrying Choe and his entourage malfunctioned and had to fly back. It took 10 hours for the plane to be fixed and Choe arrived at Moscow around midnight.

The meeting with Putin, the highlight of Choe’s trip, was also delayed due to the Russian president’s schedule, Korean media reported. The meeting was initially scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, but only began at 7 p.m. as Putin decided to stay longer than planned at the forum of the All-Russia Peoples’ Front.

Choe will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday and visit Khabarovsk and Vladivostok in the country’s Far East during the eight-day visit. He will leave Russia on Monday.

While little is known about Choe’s mission, Moscow’s foreign ministry said earlier that he would discuss key bilateral issues.

South Korea played down the significance of Choe’s trip. “North Korea recently stepped up its diplomacy aggressively,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il. “It is an evidence of the North’s situation that it is isolated and has no one to seek help from.”

Analysts said Choe’s mission possibly includes arranging a summit between Kim and Putin.

Alexander Vorontsov, head of the Korea and Mongolia department of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua News Agency that it is “possible and logical” that Choe’s visit could be a preparation for a visit of North Korean leader Kim to Russia.

Another North Korea specialist, Kim Yen Un, a senior researcher at the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, also told Xinhua that the two sides will “definitely” discuss a top-level visit, but it is too early to predict the exact timing.


BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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