Putin offers help to break North Korea nuclear deadlock in first meeting with Kim Jong-un

Chris Baynes
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Putin offers help to break North Korea nuclear deadlock in first meeting with Kim Jong-un

Vladimir Putin has offered Russia’s help in breaking the deadlock over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme during his first meeting with Kim Jong-un.

The Russian president said he was confident the two leaders’ summit “would help us better understand what should be done to settle the situation on the Korean Peninsula, what we can do together”.

Mr Putin and Mr Kim greeted each other warmly, smiling and shaking hands on Russky Island near the far-east Russian port city of Vladivostok on Thursday morning.

The North Korean leader arrived in a limousine for the two-day summit at a university campus after travelling to Russia on his armoured train a day earlier.

They stood side-by-side on an escalator, chatting with help from interpreters, as they made their way to an upper floor to begin talks.

In brief opening remarks in front of the media, Mr Putin said he hoped his North Korean counterpart's visit would help to establish "what Russia can do to support the positive processes now underway".

"Without question we welcome your efforts to develop dialogue between the Koreas, and to normalise North Korean-US relations," he told Mr Kim.

Later, following their first face-to-face meeting at the start of broader talks involving officials from both sides, Mr Putin said the leaders had shared a "substantial discussion" and exchanged views on how to resolve the stand-off.

The meeting provides Pyongyang with an opportunity to seek support from a new quarter and possible relief from the sanctions hurting its economy.

The summit has been seen as an attempt to show Washington is not the only power able to set the agenda on North Korea's nuclear programme, after talks between Mr Kim and Donald Trump broke down.

"As world attention is focused on the Korean Peninsula, there will be very meaningful dialogue for us to jointly assess the Korean peninsula policies and share, coordinate and study our views," Mr Kim said.

For the Kremlin, the talks are a chance to show Russia remains a global diplomatic player despite efforts by the US and other Western states to isolate it.

But with Moscow committed to upholding sanctions until North Korea dismantles its nuclear programme, analysts have predicted the summit is unlikely to have any real benefit for Pyongyang beyond a show of camaraderie.

Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin greeted other warmly in Vladivostok (EPA)

Mr Kim's second round of talks with Mr Trump, held in Hanoi in February, ended without an agreement due to a dispute over US-led sanctions.

There have since been no publicly known high-level contacts between Washington and Pyongyang, although both sides say they are open to a third summit.

North Korea has expressed increasing frustration at the deadlocked negotiations. Last week, it test-fired what it said was a "new type of tactical guided weapon" and demanded that "immature" US secretary of state Mike Pompeo be removed from the nuclear talks.