North Korean leader concludes his trip to Russia with 'heartfelt thanks' to Putin
AFP || Shining BD
Kim Jong Un thanked Vladimir Putin "from the bottom of his heart" as he returned to North Korea on Monday after spending nearly a week in Russia on a defense-related trip.
Kim's tour of Russia's Far East, which began Tuesday, has showcased potential military ties, with North Korea's leader inspecting everything from Russian space rockets to submarines, and including a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin
The trip has fanned Western fears that the isolated, nuclear-armed country could provide Moscow with weapons for its assault on Ukraine.
Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency on Monday said Kim "extended his heartfelt thanks to President Putin and the Russian leadership" for "their special care and cordial hospitality" as he wrapped up the visit.
He also wished "Russia prosperity and its people well-being", the KCNA report added.
North Korea and Russia, two historic allies, are both subject to global sanctions, Moscow for its offensive in Ukraine and Pyongyang for its nuclear tests.
During his tour of Russia, Kim stated that his country, whose most important ally and economic benefactor is Beijing, would make bilateral ties with Moscow its "number one priority" as he met with Putin for a rare summit.
According to experts, Russia is eager for North Korea's artillery shells to be used in Ukraine, while Pyongyang seeks assistance with satellite technology and upgrading its Soviet-era military equipment.
On Wednesday, Putin and Kim held talks at Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome, roughly 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) from Moscow.
After the meeting Putin talked up the prospect of greater cooperation with North Korea and the "possibilities" for military ties.
But the Kremlin has said no agreement has or will be signed.
Kim's latest visit to Russia will "shine long in history", KCNA said, and will further consolidate the two countries' "militant unity" while "opening up a new chapter" of their relations.
While meeting Kim, Putin accepted an invitation to visit North Korea and offered to send one of its nationals to space, which would be a first.
Kim is returning to North Korea via bulletproof train, with KCNA reporting that the leader "begins his journey home after bringing a new radical turn to the history of the development of DPRK-Russia relations."
DPRK is the acronym for the official name of North Korea.
Before departing from Vladivostok, the Pacific port city just across the border, the governor of the Primorye region, which borders China and North Korea, presented Kim with five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone, and a bulletproof vest.