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Russia, N Korea sign their strongest partnership deal since Cold War

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Seoul, June 19: Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West.
The deal, which the leaders said covered areas including security, trade, investment, and cultural and humanitarian ties, could mark the strongest connection between Moscow and Pyongyang since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Both leaders described it as a major upgrade of their ties.
The two met as Putin visited North Korea for the first time in 24 years. The summit came as the US and its allies express growing concerns over an arms arrangement in which the country provides Moscow with badly needed munitions for its war in Ukraine in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile programme.
Kim said that the deal was the “strongest ever treaty” between the two nations, putting the relationship at the level of an alliance, and vowed full support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Putin said that it was a “breakthough document” reflecting shared desire to move relations to a higher level.
Putin thanked Kim for North Korea’s support for his war in Ukraine, part of what he said was a “fight against the imperialist hegemonistic policies of the US and its satellites against the Russian Federation”.
Putin hailed ties that he traced back to the Soviet army fighting the Japanese military on the Korean Peninsula in the closing moments of World War II, and Moscow’s support for Pyongyang during the Korean War.
Kim said Moscow and Pyongyang’s “fiery friendship” is now even closer than during Soviet times, and promised “full support and solidarity to the Russian government, army and people in carrying out the special military operation in Ukraine to protect sovereignty, security interests and territorial integrity”.
It wasn’t immediately clear what that support might look like. Kim has used similar language in the past, consistently saying North Korea supports what he describes as a just action to protect Russia’s interests and blaming the crisis on the US-led West’s “hegemonic policy”.
North Korea is under heavy UN Security Council sanctions over its weapons program, while Russia also faces sanctions by the United States and its Western partners over its aggression in Ukraine.
US and South Korean officials accuse the North of providing Russia with artillery, missiles and other military equipment for use in Ukraine, possibly in return for key military technologies and aid. Both Pyongyang and Moscow deny accusations about North Korean weapons transfers, which would violate multiple UN Security Council sanctions that Russia previously endorsed.
Along with China, Russia has provided political cover for Kim’s continuing efforts to advance his nuclear arsenal, repeatedly blocking US-led efforts to impose fresh UN sanctions on the North over its weapons tests.
Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Pyongyang that the two leaders exchanged gifts after the talks. Putin presented Kim with a Russian-made Aurus limo and other gifts, including a tea set and a naval officer’s dagger. Ushakov said that Kim’s presents to Putin included artworks depicting the Russian leader.
Russia media said earlier that Kim will host a reception, and Putin is expected to leave Wednesday evening for Vietnam.
In addition to security, Putin said the partnership includes cooperation in political, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian fields, as well as security.
He added that Russia would not rule out developing military-technical cooperation with North Korea under the deal. (AP)

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