SEOUL, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is notorious for his chronic tardiness at meetings with world leaders, took many by surprise by showing up well ahead of time for his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Thursday.

Putin was about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and was “waiting” for Kim at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. When Kim got out of his vehicle, Putin welcomed him with a warm greeting, to which Kim replied by thanking him for the invitation.

Putin’s legendary lack of punctuality has made international headlines ever since he took power in 2000.

Most recently, he kept U.S. President Donald Trump waiting for nearly one hour when they were to meet for talks in Helsinki in July last year. He made German Chancellor Angela Merkel wait for four hours and 15 minutes in 2014.

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye waited him for half an hour at a 2013 meeting.

His track record of delay includes meetings with British monarch Queen Elizabeth II he was 14 minutes to meet her in 2003 and Pope Francis 50 minutes behind schedule in 2015.

The surprise early appearance at the summit with Kim has excited much interest, experts said, amid expectations that the talks would focus on the North’s denuclearization following the collapse of the Kim-Trump summit in February.

“It’s definitely an eye-opening episode,” an observer said. “Putin seems to be committed to his role as a host, although the protocol overall appears to have been arranged in a rush.”

Analyses of his typical behavior vary some see it as a power play and a tactic intended to seize the initiative in diplomacy, while others downplay it as simply a “bad habit.”

Source: Yonhap news Agency