SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang for Russia aboard his private train, state media reported Tuesday, with photos showing top arms industry officials and others diplomats and military commanders, would probably accompany him.
Kim left on Sunday for a trip that will include meetings with President Vladimir Putin, the official KCNA news agency reported.
U.S. officials, who were the first to signal that the visit was imminent, said the discussions would likely include a possible agreement that North Korea would provide Russia with weapons for the war in Ukraine.
Kim was accompanied by senior government officials, including military personnel, KCNA said.
Among the delegation are prominent military figures from the ruling party, including the director of the munitions industry department, Jo Chun Ryong, and one analyst said the composition of the delegation suggests the visit will focus mainly on cooperation in defense industry and security affairs.
“The presence of Jo Chun Ryong indicates that North Korea and Russia are going to reach some sort of agreement for the purchase of munitions,” said Michael Madden, an expert on North Korean leadership at the Washington-based Stimson Center.
Photos released by state media showed military honor guards and crowds of people dressed in dark suits and colorful dresses waving flowers and flags as he boarded the dark green train, which would be armored and carried other specialized equipment.
Kim’s trip to Russia and meeting with Putin will be a large-scale visit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a video posted online.
According to Peskov, the main theme of the negotiations will be relations between neighboring countries.
“We will continue to strengthen our friendship,” he said.
Moscow and Pyongyang have denied US accusations that they have entered into arms deals, but the two countries have pledged to strengthen their defense ties.
North Korea’s Kim en route to Russia for talks with Putin
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