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September 27, 2023

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is headed for Russia, setting the stage for a meeting with Putin

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has departed for Russia where he is expected to hold a highly anticipated meeting with President Vladimir Putin that has sparked Western concerns about a potential arms deal for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Tuesday that Kim boarded his personal train from the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday afternoon, and that he will be accompanied by unspecified members of the country’s ruling party, government and military.

State media photos showed Kim walking pass honour guards and crowds of civilians holding the national flag and flowers and waving his hand from his green-and-yellow armoured train before it left the station in Pyongyang.

A group of senior officials, including Cabinet Premier Kim Tok Hun, Kim Jong Un’s top economic official, were at the station to give the leader a “hearty send-off”, KCNA said.

KCNA did not specify whether the train had crossed the border.

A brief statement on the Kremlin’s website on Monday said the visit is at Putin’s invitation and would take place “in the coming days.” KCNA said the leaders would meet — without specifying when and where.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Putin and Kim will lead their delegations in talks and could also meet “one-on-one if necessary”. He added that Putin will host an official dinner for Kim.

The talks will focus on bilateral ties, Peskov said. “As with any of our neighbours, we feel obliged to develop good, mutually beneficial relations,” he added.

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