The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has accepted an invitation from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to visit North Korea.
The two leaders gave each other a weapon as a gift on Wednesday when they met in the far east of Russia during a summit.
“Putin gave (Kim) a rifle of the highest quality from our manufacturers. In return, he also received a North Korean-made rifle,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin, said on Thursday.
Putin also presented the North Korean leader with a “glove from a space suit that has been in space several times”.
It was speculated in advance that Putin and Kim would agree on an illegal arms deal. Russia is eager for ammunition to continue its war against Ukraine. North Korea is seeking Moscow’s help in developing its missile program.
Kim, who rarely leaves his country, held talks with Putin at the Vostochny space flight center.
According to the Kremlin, the North Korean leader’s visit to Russia’s far east will “last a few more days”.
Peskov, meanwhile, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to travel to North Korea in October. The necessary arrangements for Putin’s visit to this country will be made afterwards.
This will be only Putin’s second visit to North Korea despite the two countries sharing a short border.
The Russian leader visited Pyongyang in July 2000 to meet Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il.
More than two decades later, Russia now faces an unprecedented isolation from the West over its war against Ukraine. Putin now seeks to promote the alliances of the Soviet era.
Kim’s visit to Russia is his first foreign trip since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
Both countries are currently subject to a series of sanctions, while Kim’s visit has sparked widespread concern about illegal arms deals.
Putin, meanwhile, told reporters he saw “possibilities” for military cooperation.
The head of South Korea’s ruling party has since criticized what he calls “a diabolical deal”, while Japan has warned against any violations of the UN ban on arms deals with North Korea following the Putin-Kim summit.
“We are watching (the talks) with concern, including the possibility that they could lead to violations of the Security Council ban on all arms-related material negotiations with North Korea,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters. .