Preparations Underway for Kim-Putin Summit in Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — Preparations are underway for a summit between the leader of North Korea and Russia's president, Russian officials and media reported Tuesday.
The Kremlin confirmed earlier this month that Kim Jong Un would meet with President Putin before the end of the month but has not named the place or date, citing security concerns.
Russian media have widely reported that the leaders will meet in the port city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean.
That city has been seeing a number of unusually strict security measures. Maritime authorities said Tuesday that the waters around Russky Island, off the southern tip of Vladivostok, will be closed for all maritime traffic between Wednesday morning and Friday morning.
The island is home to a university with a conference hall, and is seen as a likely summit venue.
Separately, local media reported that some platforms at Vladivostok's main train station will be closed for several days, and that buses will be rerouted from the train station on Wednesday.
The news website Vl.ru reported that municipal authorities undertook road works to make the entryway in and out of the train station less steep — presumably to allow Kim's motorcade to drive straight out from the platform.
Kim, like his father, avoids air travel and is likely to travel by train to Vladivostok, about 675 kilometers (419 miles) south of Pyongyang.
Earlier on Tuesday, North Korea confirmed the meeting in a terse, two-sentence statement.
North Korea has so far not gotten what it wants most from the recent flurry of high-level summitry between Kim and various world leaders — namely, relief from crushing international sanctions. There are fears that a recent North Korean weapon test and a series of jibes at Washington over deadlocked nuclear negotiations mean that Pyongyang may again return to the nuclear and long-range missile tests that had many in Asia fearing war in 2017.
Kim had two summits with U.S. President Donald Trump, but the latest, in Vietnam in February, collapsed because North Korea wanted more sanctions relief than Washington was willing to give for the amount of nuclear disarmament offered by Pyongyang.
It's not clear how — or even if — Putin will push the stalled nuclear talks along, and the visit may have more to do with each nation's economic interests.
Russia would like to gain broader access to North Korea's mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang, for its part, covets Russia's electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize its dilapidated industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.
North Korea announced last week that it had tested what it called a new type of "tactical guided weapon." While unlikely to be a prohibited test of a medium- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle the negotiations, the announcement signaled the North's growing disappointment with the diplomatic breakdown.