MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin emerged Thursday from his first summit with Kim Jong Un in the Russian Far East to say that North Korea needs international security guarantees if Pyongyang is going to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Meeting in the city of Vladivostok two months after Kim’s failed talks with President Donald Trump, Putin said that if U.S. guarantees are not enough for North Korea, then six-party talks, which include Russia, can be resurrected, shifting the conversation away from possible sanctions relief to security.

“We do share interests with the United States. We stand for full denuclearization,” Putin told reporters after his longer-than-expected meeting with Kim. Putin added that he would press the issue with both Beijing and Washington – answering a personal request from Kim to do so.

For the Kremlin, eager to play a part in high-stakes nuclear talks, the flashy summit shows Russia’s growing political role around the globe.

It would be a mistake, Putin said, not to involve regional players such as Russia and China, and instead rely on the United States and South Korea to try resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula. “It’s unlikely that any agreements between two countries will be enough,” he said.

For Kim, meeting a world leader such as Putin presented an opportunity to save face after the breakdown in his second round of talks with Trump in Hanoi.

At a banquet following the talks, Kim raised a glass of wine to Putin, saying, “I had a frank and substantive exchange of opinions with Mr. Putin on the development of Russian-Korean relations and the provision of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.”

Dressed in his usual Mao-collared black outfit, Kim then sat down for an intimate dinner with a handful of people, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at the Far Eastern Federal University, whose main halls were decorated with flags of both countries.

According to Russian state media, the one-on-one meeting between Putin and Kim lasted almost two hours, much longer than the 50 minutes allotted.

After their meal of crab salad, beetroot soup, reindeer dumplings and cod, the two leaders attended a Russian dance and choir concert involving North Korean performers. North Korea already has links to the university hosting the talks; an exchange program is in place for several dozen students in partnership with major colleges in Pyongyang.

Putin was scheduled to leave Vladivostok soon after his talks with Kim for a summit in Beijing.

Kim, who arrived in style by armored train on Wednesday morning, will stay on in Russia to later tour the port city some 435 miles from Pyongyang on the Pacific Coast. He plans to visit Vladivostok’s aquarium and enjoy a culinary feast of traditional Russian fare including caviar.

Looking very much the statesman in a black trilby hat and peacoat, Kim expressed joy at finally being on Russian soil, a land visited by his father and grandfather, but not by Kim himself until this trip.

North Korean state media celebrated Kim’s visit; the front page of the Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, splashed 12 photographs of Kim’s arrival and welcome across its front page.

Washington will be closely watching from the sidelines for any potential cracks in economic sanctions and other pressures on Kim’s regime. Wary of a possible Russian turnaround, the State Department sent its envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, to Moscow last week to push for maintaining pressure to realize the country’s full denuclearization.

In another sign of Pyongyang’s frustration with Washington, North Korea issued a strongly worded condemnation Thursday of ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills, warning that its own military could respond.

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country called the exercises an “act of perfidy” on behalf of South Korean authorities, claiming in a statement that the drills violate agreements reached between the leaders of North and South Korea last year. The United States says military exercises have been scaled back, but North Korea appears to want the joint exercises canceled altogether.

“Now that the south Korean authorities get undisguised in their military provocation against the DPRK together with the U.S., there will be corresponding response to it from our army,” the statement warned, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In the days leading up to Thursday’s meeting, some Russian lawmakers suggested that sanctions on North Korea should be lifted.

Like Beijing, Moscow has been cautious toward North Korea, with which it shares a border, and does not want to see regime change that could usher in U.S. influence. But it is also eager to build ties with North Korea, a former client of the Soviet Union.

In Kim’s last sit-down with Trump in Hanoi, the U.S. president asked him to give up North Korea’s entire nuclear arsenal in exchange for help in creating a “bright future” economically. Kim refused, and later a senior North Korean official denounced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying the North no longer wants to work with him.


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