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Russian President Vladimir Putin to travel to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-un

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) during the Russia-North Korea Summit on September 13, 2023, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region, Russia. On Tuesday, Putin will travel to North Korea for a reciprocal meeting with the North Korean leader as the two countries strengthen military ties. File Pool Photo by Kremlin/UPI
1 of 2 | North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un (L) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) during the Russia-North Korea Summit on September 13, 2023, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region, Russia. On Tuesday, Putin will travel to North Korea for a reciprocal meeting with the North Korean leader as the two countries strengthen military ties. File Pool Photo by Kremlin/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- For the first time in 20 years, Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to North Korea on Tuesday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, for their second meeting in nine months, as the two countries strengthen military ties amid Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin announced Putin will spend two days in Pyongyang before traveling to Communist-governed Vietnam on Wednesday.

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Putin and Kim are expected to sign a new strategic partnership Wednesday, to update documents signed between Moscow and Pyongyang in 1961, 2000 and 2001, according to Putin aide Yuri Ushakov. While Ushakov said the agreement does not target other countries, it will ensure greater stability in northeast Asia.

"The parties are still working on it, and a final decision regarding its signing will be formed in the coming hours," Ushakov said, according to Russian state media RIA.

Putin's visit follows Kim's trip to Russia in September, when the two countries exchanged weapons and economic assistance. The last time Putin traveled to North Korea was in 2000, when he met with Kim's father and former leader Kim Jong Il.

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Russia and North Korea's relationship has "developed into invincible ties between comrades-in-arms and a far-reaching strategic relationship, thanks to our significant meeting ... in September last year, and they are steadily developing into a new high," Kim said in a statement last fall, carried by official Korean Central News Agency.

On Monday, U.S. National Security spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House that the Biden administration is "not concerned about the trip," but added there is concern about the growing anti-West coalition.

"What we are concerned about is the deepening relationship between these two countries not just because of the impact it is going to have on the Ukrainian people, since we know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets, and because there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean Peninsula," Kirby said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told U.S. lawmakers last month that North Korean weapons and Iranian drones had helped Russian forces prolong their war in Ukraine.

"We saw Russia engage North Korea, who provided quite a bit of munitions and missiles, and the drones provided by Iran really helped to begin turning the tide there for Russia a bit, and allowed them to get back up on their feet," Austin said.

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Putin's meeting in North Korea comes less than a week after world leaders met at the Group of Seven summit in Italy, where they reaffirmed their support for Ukraine by agreeing to back a $50 billion loan funded by profits from frozen Russian assets.

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