Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader arrived in Russia this Wednesday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for a highly anticipated summit. The meeting has come amid standstill in negotiations with the United States over North Korea’s nuclear program. What is to be noted further is that the North Korean leader’s most trusted policy adviser Kim Yong Chol, who is also the country’s biggest nuclear negotiator, was removed from his post before Kim Jong Un visited Russia. His name was not in the list of officials accompanying Kim.
Marking his first visit as North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un was greeted by the Russian officials at the Khasan train station on Wednesday morning. Kim then traveled to the Pacific port of Vladivostok where he is expected to be with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Upon his arrival in Vladivostok, Kim was greeted by the military orchestra. He then got into his personal limousine that traveled along with him from North Korea, and drive away.
Kim Jong Un, in a rare television interview with country’s state-owned Rossiya-24, said that he is hoping this to be a successful and useful visit and would like to put forward the discussion on the settlement of the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Kim also mentioned that the bilateral ties with Russia are to be discussed as well.
The North Korean leader was quoted saying, I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it. It’s been seven years since I took the helm, and I’ve only just managed to visit.
The summit with Putin is scheduled on Thursday, and the North Korean leader may visit neighboring landmarks and facilities before going back to North Korea on Friday.
The marginalization of Kim Yong Chol, who was the counterpart to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the two countries’ nuclear talks, could work to the United States’ advantage.
The sidelining of Kim Yong Chol, Kim’s most trusted policy advisor, and who was also the counterpart of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could work in the favor of the United States. In a statement by Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst from South Korea’s Sejong Institute, he said that (Pyongyang’s) significantly diminished reliance on Kim Yong Chol is a very positive sign for the denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the United States. Cheong also mentioned that Kim Yong Chol was most responsible for the failure of the second summit. And though there haven’t been any publicly high contact between the two countries, both the sides still say that they are open to a third summit.
Anyway, we are yet to see what comes out of the meeting between Russian President and North Korean leader.