North Korean Foreign Minister Concludes Moscow Visit Amid Growing Military Ties

PYONGYANG – North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui returned home on Friday after a visit to Moscow, where she met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, signaling deepening military cooperation between North Korea and Russia.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, Choe's delegation was welcomed back at Pyongyang International Airport by Vice Foreign Minister Pak Chol-jun, Charge d'Affaires ad Interim Vladimir Topeha, and Military Attache Valeri Isaenko of the Russian Embassy. The visit to Moscow comes at a time when North Korea and Russia are seeking to enhance their military cooperation. This collaboration includes North Korea providing arms to Russia for its conflict in Ukraine, in exchange for technical support for Pyongyang's weapons programs.

During her visit, Choe, who was in Moscow at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, held bilateral talks with Lavrov on Tuesday. She later briefed President Putin on the outcomes of their discussions, as confirmed by the Kremlin. Following the meeting with Putin, the Kremlin expressed Russia's interest in further developing relations with North Korea in various fields, including those deemed "sensitive."

The Russian foreign ministry stated that Choe and Lavrov discussed bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements from the North Korea-Russia summit in September. Their talks also included planning for "future political contacts," fueling speculation about a potential visit by President Putin to Pyongyang. During a previous summit in eastern Russia between Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Putin had accepted an invitation to visit Pyongyang, a trip last made in July 2000.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned on Friday that discussions about Putin's visit to North Korea are ongoing. "Discussions are still underway through diplomatic channels. We will make announcements as soon as the dates are set," he was quoted by the state-run news agency TASS. The South Korean unification ministry, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, did not dismiss the possibility of such a visit. Deputy ministry spokesperson Kim In-ae stated at a press briefing, "As both countries have made official announcements in regard to Putin's visit to North Korea, it is probable. We will continue to closely monitor the situation."

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