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Putin, Kim meet at Russian cosmodrome ahead of expected arms talks

by Martin Fornusek September 13, 2023 8:32 AM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) at Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's far-eastern Amur Oblast for official talks, Sept. 13, 2023. (Photo credit: Artem Geodakyan/POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's far-eastern Amur Oblast for official talks, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Sept. 13.

Videos published by the Kremlin show the two leaders shaking hands against the backdrop of Russian and North Korean flags.

"Thank you for inviting us and welcoming us while your work is busy," Kim said in one of the videos.

Putin said the meeting was held at the space center because Pyongyang had shown interest in Russia's missile and satellite technology.

"The leader of North Korea shows great interest in space, in rocketry, and they are trying to develop space. We'll show our new objects," Putin told reporters.

Only a few hours prior to their meeting, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula – a move that South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff called a "significant provocative act."

One reporter asked whether Russia would help North Korea "launch its own satellites and rockets" — to which Putin responded: "That’s exactly why we came here."

North Korea's dictator departed for Russia on Sept. 11 for, as Washington believes, talks about possible arms sales and North Korean military aid to support Russia's war in Ukraine.

North Korea provided infantry rockets and missiles to Russia in 2022, and Moscow has since been seeking further arms supplies since then to bolster its war efforts in Ukraine.

In the spring of 2023, Moscow reportedly approached Pyongyang with the offer of food supplies in exchange for weapons. North Korea has been heavily militarized since the end of the war with its Southern Korean neighbors in 1953 but suffers from chronic food shortages.

Earlier in August, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea's capital to convince the country's leadership to provide artillery ammunition that Russian forces could use in its war against Ukraine.

White House: Russia, North Korea talks on arms supplies move forward
The U.S. is concerned that the negotiations between Russia and North Korea on arms supplies are actively advancing, Reuters reported on Aug. 30, citing National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

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