Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged rifles as gifts, the Kremlin announced on Thursday. Kim Jong Un is on a visit to Russia’s Far East. Putin has been working to bolster ties with other assertive leaders who have faced isolation from the Western world. Their meeting sparked speculation about the possibility of an arms deal.
Putin “gave (Kim) a rifle from our production of the highest quality. In turn, he also received a North Korean-made rifle,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Apart from the rifle, Putin also gave Kim “a glove from a space suit that has been in space several times”, Peskov said, while Putin “gratefully” accepted an invitation to visit North Korea.
On Kim’s visit to Russia, Kremlin said it would last “a few more days”. The North Korean leader arrived in Russia on Tuesday.
North Korean leader’s whereabouts ‘uncertain’
AP reported that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was to tour a Russian aircraft plant that builds fighter jets and then visit the country’s Pacific Fleet. His whereabouts are, however, ‘uncertain’.
“We express our deep concern and regret that despite repeated warnings from the international community, North Korea and Russia discussed military cooperation issues, including satellite development, during their summit,” Lim Soo-suk, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, AP quoted.
Meanwhile, the West remains concerned about the camaraderie between Russia and North Korea. Washington has warned that the ongoing meeting between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin may result in an ammunition supply for the Russians and could be used in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“No nation on the planet, nobody, should be helping Mr. Putin kill innocent Ukrainians,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said. Kim Jong Un reached Russia earlier this week in his private train. He was received by Russian President Vladimir Putin.