Putin Meets Kim Jong Un In Russia

Apr 25, 2019
Originally published on April 25, 2019 7:14 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, is looking to diversify his alliances. After his second meeting with President Trump went nowhere back in February, Kim is now in Russia to have his first summit with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.

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MARTIN: That is the sound of the Russian honor guard that greeted Kim as he arrived by armored train in the Russian city of Vladivostok yesterday. NPR's Lucian Kim is with us now from Moscow to talk about this meeting. Hey, Lucian.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So any big agreements that came out of this tete-a-tete?

KIM: Well, no. And we knew that from the very beginning. In fact, the meeting has just finished. Russian state TV was reporting that they had seen at least four bottles of champagne being brought into the room where the delegations were meeting. So it looks like there was a good mood.

MARTIN: Sounds celebratory, yeah.

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MARTIN: But we don't know if they were celebrating anything?

KIM: Well, Putin, before that happened, held face-to-face talks with Kim Jong Un. They lasted two hours, which were twice as long as planned. Here's what Kim - here's what Putin said after meeting Kim one-on-one.

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PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: So Putin called the talks they had comprehensive, and he said they spoke in detail about denuclearization. He said he was very satisfied with the talks and described Kim Jong Un as someone open and interesting who discussed all the points on their agenda.

MARTIN: Of course, we've heard this time and time again from Kim Jong Un, that he's interested in denuclearizing. We haven't really seen that happen yet. They haven't kept their agreements. What kind of leverage does Russia have over the North?

KIM: Well, I think it's important to remember that the Soviet Union actually created North Korea, and this was one of the first battlegrounds of the Cold War. So relations between Moscow and Pyongyang go back a long time. Putin knew Kim Jong Un's father, who also visited Vladivostok. Today, Russia has also developed very close relations with South Korea, and its influence over North Korea has waned. North Korea looks more to China as a big brother, but Russia is always ready to step in. And, in fact, the Kremlin has been planning this meeting with Kim Jong Un for more than a year now.

MARTIN: So as we noted, U.S. talks with North Korea are deadlocked after that meeting in February fell apart. What does this meeting between Kim and Putin, what does it mean for the U.S. right now?

KIM: Well, after the talks, Putin was asked about overlapping interests. And he said, yeah, of course, the U.S. and Russia have a common priority in reducing the nuclear threat. He said no secrets or conspiracies were agreed today, and that even Kim Jong Un asked him to inform the U.S. about his position. And in Putin's words, that's basically, he's also interested in denuclearization, but he definitely wants those security guarantees.

MARTIN: NPR's Lucian Kim for us. Thanks, Lucian.

KIM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.