Kim Jong Un vows to boost Russian ties in meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Pyongyang to discuss bilateral ties, state media reported Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Pyongyang to discuss bilateral ties, state media reported Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

SEOUL, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pyongyang and praised a "new era" in relations between the two countries, state media reported Friday, amid reports that the countries have already begun moving forward on an arms deal.

Lavrov led a delegation to North Korea for a follow-up to Kim's visit to Russia last month, which included a summit with President Vladimir Putin.


Kim said that Pyongyang aimed to "work out a stable, forward-looking, far-reaching plan for the DPRK-Russia relations in the new era by faithfully implementing the agreements made at the DPRK-Russia summit," according to a report in state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Lavrov arrived Wednesday for a two-day visit, which included a meeting with his North Korean counterpart Choe Son Hui and a wreath-laying ceremony at the monuments of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

He delivered a message from Putin that "reaffirm[s] our readiness to fulfill everything that had been agreed upon," according to Russia's official news agency TASS.


"Corresponding work has already begun," Lavrov added.

The unspecified agreements are believed by Washington and Seoul to include an arms deal, and the White House said last week that North Korea had already delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia.

At an online press briefing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Russia was providing North Korea with military assistance in exchange for the supplies.

"We assess that Pyongyang is seeking military assistance from Russia including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, or other materials or other advanced technologies," Kirby said.

Satellite imagery released earlier this week appeared to offer fresh evidence of cargo ships ferrying arms from North Korea to Russia, according to an analysis by British think tank Royal United Services Institute.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Thursday that Washington would work to impede any arms trade with Russia.

"Part of the reason Russia has had to go around the world looking for arms is because of the sanctions and export controls that we have imposed on them," Miller said at a press briefing.


"We have released information to show that military assistance is already moving from DPRK into Russia," he said. "We will closely monitor that and we will take whatever steps we can to hold the parties to account as we have in the past."

Moscow claims that the allegations of North Korean arms shipments are unfounded.

"Well, it's not just British intelligence, it's American intelligence, they report it all the time without providing any evidence," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday, according to TASS.

"We will develop relations in all areas," Peskov added. "This is our sovereign right and we do not think that anyone has the right to interfere in this."

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