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Five hours at Vostochny Spaceport: Putin, Kim Jong Un meet again four years later

The Russian president pointed out that the meeting took place "at a special time," as this year marks the 75th anniversary of the DPRK
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Mikhail Metzel/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
© Mikhail Metzel/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

VOSTOCHNY SPACEPORT /Amur Region/, September 13. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a more than five-hour-long meeting at the Vostochny Spaceport on Wednesday, their first summit in four years.

The Russian president pointed out that the meeting took place "at a special time," as this year marks the 75th anniversary of the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, known as North Korea), which the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize, as well as being the anniversary of the end of the Korean War, in which Moscow and Pyongyang fought on the same side. Kim Jong Un dubbed relations with Russia as "the top priority" for his state and expressed confidence in the victory of the Russian army and people in their "sacred fight."

TASS has compiled the key information about the summit.

Road to summit

Reports about Kim Jong Un’s potential visit to Russia, which would be his first foreign trip since the outbreak of the pandemic, were brought up by the Western media in early September. On September 11, Moscow and Pyongyang confirmed that the North Korean leader would visit Russia, but did not specify on which date.

On September 12, Kim Jong Un arrived on his train in Russia’s Far Eastern Primorye Region. Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov, Russia’s co-chair of the intergovernmental commission, welcomed him at the train station in the border city of Khasan. Putin was already in Vladivostok, where he chaired a meeting on the development of Far Eastern cities and towns and delivered a speech at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.

At Vostochny Spaceport

On Wednesday, the Russian president traveled by plane from the Primorye Region to the Vostochny Spaceport, where he met with Maria Andreeva, a high school student from Rostov-on-Don. She was among a group of students that attended Putin’s open lesson "Talking About Important Things" on September 1, at which she told the president about her interest in space exploration, in particular her passion for satellites.

The North Korean leader arrived at the spaceport on his train, which pulled up at the launch vehicle assembly and test building. He made his way to the meeting with Putin in his Maybach limousine.

The two leaders shook hands and posed for a photo at the main entrance to the assembly and test building. Putin told Kim Jong Un about the Vostochny Spaceport, and the North Korean leader thanked him for the invitation to visit Russia "despite his busy schedule."

Putin and Kim Jong Un were shown around the shop assembling Angara launch vehicles.

"This is why we are visiting here (the Vostochny Spaceport - TASS). The North Korean leader has expressed a strong interest in rocket technology, and they (North Korea - TASS) are also seeking to develop space exploration capabilities," Putin told reporters.

Kim Jong Un made an entry in the book for honorable visitors, writing in Korean: "The glory of Russia as the country of first space explorers will never fade away."

One-on-one talks and talks involving delegations

The talks between the two countries’ delegations took place on the first floor of the engineering building of the unit designed for Soyuz-2 carrier rockets. They lasted for over an hour (in 2019 similar talks lasted for about three and a half hours.)

From Russia, four deputy prime ministers - Denis Manturov, Marat Khusnullin, Alexey Overchuk and Yury Trutnev - as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev, Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who visited Pyongyang in late July, took park in the talks. From North Korea, the talks were attended by Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui and Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam, as well as by Marshal Pak Jong Chon, a member of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

During that part of the meeting that was open to the press, which lasted less than ten minutes including time for interpretation, Putin recalled "the special time" during which the talks were being held as well as the assistance provided by the Soviet Union to the Koreans in their struggle for independence. The North Korean leader said in response that relations with Moscow are a top priority for Pyongyang and expressed confidence that the summit would help to elevate them to a new level. He stated that Russia had risen "to the sacred fight" for its sovereignty and security and voiced total support for the country’s authorities.

After the talks involving the delegations, Putin and Kim Jong Un held hour-long one-on-one talks (their previous face-to-face conversation lasted about two hours), although this was not announced beforehand, as Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov merely indicated that it would be possible if needed.

Among the issues discussed were bilateral cooperation, the situation in the region and beyond. In particular, Kim Jong Un pointed out that they touched upon "the military-political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Europe." Peskov told TASS that no documents were expected to be signed after the talks.

Formal dinner

After the talks, a formal dinner was served in honor of Kim Jong Un with Kamchatka crab dumplings, white amur fish soup and taiga lingonberries with cedar nuts and condensed milk laid out on the table. Four years ago, Far Eastern delicacies and typical Russian cuisine, including crab salad, borsch and venison dumplings, were served.

The two leaders toasted each other. Putin raised his glass to the health of Kim Jong Un and the wellbeing and prosperity of the peoples of Russia and North Korea who are working for the sake of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. The DPRK’s leader said with confidence at the reception that the traditional friendly ties between Moscow and Pyongyang would evolve into "unbreakable relations of strategic cooperation," wished success in the special military operation and toasted to "the new victories of great Russia."