North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves the Vostochny Cosmodrome by armored train on Thursday after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kim arrived in North Korea after a six-day visit, state media reported Tuesday. Photo by KCNA/ UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un returned home after a six-day visit to Russia and a summit with President Vladimir Putin that "opened a new chapter" in the relationship between the two countries, state media reported on Tuesday.
Kim's armored train crossed into North Korea at Tumangang Railway Station early Monday morning, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency.
"Through his visit to the Russian Federation, the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un further deepened the comradely fellowship and friendly ties with Russian President Putin and the government and people of Russia," KCNA reported.
The trip, Kim's longest international journey since taking power in 2011, "opened a new chapter of the development of the DPRK-Russia relations," KCNA added.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
Officials in Seoul and Washington have warned that Kim and Putin appear to be pursuing an arms deal to replenish Russia's dwindling artillery stockpile as its war against Ukraine grinds on.
Kim, meanwhile, is reportedly seeking advanced technology for the North's space and missile programs. The isolated regime has announced plans for a third attempt at placing a military spy satellite into orbit in October after a pair of failed launches this year.
"The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket technology," Putin told local reporters at the Vostochny Cosmodrome rocket launch center last week. "They are also trying to develop space."
Kim's visit included stops at several military sites to view advanced fighter jets, bombers and missiles. On Saturday, he inspected Russia's Pacific Fleet in the port city of Vladivostok and met with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
During the meeting, Kim and Shoigu discussed "strengthening the strategic and tactical coordination, cooperation and mutual exchange between the armed forces of the two countries," KCNA reported.
The North Korean leader had earlier pledged to "always be standing with Russia'' during his visit with Putin. The Kremlin said that no deals for military or technical cooperation were inked after the summit, however.
"No agreements were signed on this issue or on other issues and there were no such plans," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
On Monday, the White House questioned claims that no arms pacts were struck.
"We have been monitoring this burgeoning relationship between North Korea and Russia for quite some time," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a press briefing.
"We saw the comments coming out of Kim Jong Un's meeting, comments coming from the Kremlin that there was no deal announced," Kirby said. "We'll take that with a grain of salt and we'll watch. We'll continue to monitor it, as we said we would."