SEOUL – Wearing a black fedora and black overcoat, a smile Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, struck off an armored train that had taken him on a day-long journey from Pyongyang to the Russian port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday. 19659002] Mr. Kim’s arrival came one day before he planned to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin as part of the North Korean leader’s efforts to stave off US pressure to give up his nuclear arsenal.
Accompanied by senior Russian officials, Kim listened to a military band before ending for a rare, short interview with the Russian television network Rossiya 1
“I hope this visit will be successful and fruitful”, said Kim. “I hope that during talks with dear President Putin I will have a detailed discussion on the settlement process on the Korean Peninsula and the development of our relations.”
Mr. Kim is the first North Korean leader who travels to Russia since his father, Kim Jong-il, visited there in 2011 and signaled that Kim is trying to raise ties with his country’s old Soviet allies while his diplomacy with President Trump remains unhappy.
Mr. Kim’s meeting with Mr. Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended in late February suddenly when the North Korean leader rejected Trump’s proposal for a “big deal” where the US would lift sanctions against the rapid dismantling of the Nordic region’s entire nuclear weapons program. Kim offered only a partial settlement in exchange for lifting the most damaging financial sanctions.
Since then, North Korea has become increasingly frustrated with Washington, conducted a gun test and accused Mr Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of sabotaging the negotiations. Kim said he was willing to meet Mr. Trump again, but only if the United States made a new proposal that the Nordic countries could accept at the end of the year.
A recently reported report by the UN Sanctions Committee has accused Russia of helping North Korea bypass international sanctions through the illegal transfer of oil and coal. But there are doubts about Russia’s ability to alleviate the pain of sanctions for North Korea.
Moscow is obliged to honor the UN sanctions it has voted for. And North Korea and Russia share a short border, which excludes the type of widespread smuggling that is believed to occur between North and China. Kim has met China’s President, Xi Jinping, four times when he sought help from China, accounting for more than 93 percent of the Nordic’s external trade.
By securing a meeting with Putin this week, Kim was trying to confirm his image as a global player despite not having reached an agreement with Mr. Trump in Hanoi. His meeting with Putin also sent a signal to Washington that Kim extended his diplomatic chess game.
“If the perception is real, North Korea has come to be perceived as now a player in Northeast Asia, which means Kim’s carefully calibrated PR offensive works – much to Washington’s concern,” said Harry J. Kazianis, head of Korean Studies at the National Center Interest, a research institute in Washington.
“And in the long run,” Mr Kazianis said, “Such a strategy might well pay if Kim is no longer perceived as a threat, ultimately leading to a weakened sanctions regime.”
Russia and China have supported US sanctions against the north by the UN Security Council, but at the same time the Nordic countries have been given a buffer against US pressure, supporting the Nordic argument that the United States and North Korea should resolve their differences in “one step by step” – way by trading security guarantees for North Korean action against complete denuclearisation.
With talks with Washington stalled, Mr. Kim can adjust closer to v arandra with Beijing, Moscow or both, in much the same way as the United States attempted to bring Seoul and Tokyo together to deter China’s ascent and fight a North Korea nuclear weapon.
About mr. Kim notes that his two-way diplomacy with Mr. Trump is in vain, he can play Mr Putin’s desire to increase his own influence in Asia. The Japanese news reported this week that during its meeting with Kim one could pick up so-called six-party talks on the Nordic nuclear disarmament.
Before the 2009 call went down, the talks included China, Russia and Japan, as well as the United States and North and South Korea – they had produced denuclearisation deals, but they were later revoked.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly cited the negotiations as an excellent example of how past management relationships with North Korea failed and how his own leader-to-leader diplomacy with Kim was a much better chance of getting Pyongyang’s nuclear power.