‘Putin-Kim summit opens new era in bilateral relations’

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s summit Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the city of Vladivostok will mark a new era of bilateral relations between their two countries.

The event is historic, as it is Kim’s first visit to Russia and also marks the first meeting between the two nations’ leaders since 2011, when Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong-il, met with then president Dmitry Medvedev in the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude.

Moscow has long invited Kim to visit Russia. He was expected to take part in celebrations in 2015 marking the Allies’ victory on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II but did not attend because he prefers to travel by armored train and the journey by rail from Pyongyang to Moscow takes more than 10 days.

Putin has publicly raised the issue of North Korea several times, especially during contacts with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

He advised Moon to aim for reconciliation between the two Koreas through the strengthening of economic ties. To do this, he proposed building a railway that would connect the entire Korean Peninsula, constructing a land or sea-based gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea through North Korean territory and uniting the electricity networks of the three countries.

The experts told Anadolu Agency that all of these projects can be discussed during the summit, although the Kremlin said there are no plans for any agreements to be signed following the talks.

“These projects could bring Russia $3 to $4 billion a year. They are also beneficial for North and South Korea. North Korea is suffering from an energy shortage due to a ban on the supply of oil products to the country. The interconnection of power networks could help resolve this problem. For South Korea, it will be the fastest and cheapest way to deliver goods to Russia,” said Victoria Victorova, deputy director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis.

Victorova also thinks that Kim can use his visit to Russia to bargain with Washington and step up negotiations with the U.S., which appear to have slowed down.

Putin is ready to support Kim in this matter as Moscow conducts an active foreign policy and tries to participate in all processes of world importance, she said.

“In any case, this meeting marks a new era of Russian-North Korean relations,” she added.

The establishment of contacts between the leaders of neighboring countries is important in any case, even if the meeting does not end with the signing of some documents, as well as the restoration of normal relations on the Korean Peninsula, said Sergei Filatov, a columnist for International Life magazine.

“The two countries and the divided Korean people are located on an area of about 220 square kilometers. This is less than the distance from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. Of course, people need peace,” Filatov said.

He stressed that one of Russia’s most important tasks at these talks is to help in achieving sustainable peace.

As to the issue of reunification, the Koreans themselves should resolve this problem, but according to Filatov, it will eventually happen.

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