North Korean state media quoted dictator Kim Jong-un on Friday as expressing to Russian President Vladimir Putin his frustration with President Donald Trump, claiming that America acted “in bad faith” when Trump walked out of Kim’s summit with the president in February.
Kim met with Putin for three hours Thursday, the first in-person meeting between the two leaders. The men then exchanged luxury gifts, and Putin feted Kim with an honorary banquet and toast.
Putin told reporters that he had a positive meeting with Kim and stated that he did not believe progress to end North Korea’s illegal nuclear program was possible without easing sanctions on the regime.
North Korea is currently under the strictest international sanctions program in history, one Washington routinely accuses Russia of violating, in response to its illegal nuclear arms development and repeated missile launches at peaceful neighbors like Japan and South Korea. The communist state has for decades claimed an interest in nuclear disarmament in exchange for an end to sanctions but has returned to development on multiple occasions after U.S. presidents agreed to lift sanctions.
Trump has emphasized he will not support lifting sanctions until North Korea can definitively prove its nuclear program no longer exists.
Trump’s attitude was the focus of the conversation between Kim and Putin, North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday.
“Kim Jong Un said that the situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state as the U.S. took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” the Ministry said, “and added that peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the U.S. future attitude, and the DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation.”
Kim reportedly added that he believes Russia will be a key ally in resolving the situation in his favor.
“Kim Jong Un said he was very pleased to visit Russia, the friendly neighboring country, at the invitation of President Putin,” it said, “and that the meeting came to be an especially important occasion in reaffirming the invariable trend of the history of the DPRK-Russia relations and further developing the friendly relations between the two countries in a more solid and progressive way.”
The two reportedly “agreed to more closely promote mutual understanding and bonds and boost strategic collaboration for ensuring regional peace and security in the future,” according to the North Koreans.
The regime-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the only legal news agency in North Korea, described talks between Kim and Putin as “exhaustive” and characterized by “honest and candid opinions.”
The agency also celebrated the banquet, expressing that Kim “rejoiced that the fraternal Russian people are achieving remarkable success in their efforts to build a powerful and prosperous country” during his toast.
Kim has met with Trump on two occasions. On the first, taking place last year in Singapore, the two signed a declaration in which North Korea agreed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Kim did not agree to any specifics, however, so the two sides scheduled a second summit.
North Korean state media expressed optimism regarding the second meeting in Vietnam, predicting a “major breakthrough.” Instead, the meeting abruptly ended when President Trump walked out, telling reporters that Kim and his negotiators were too intransigent.
“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that,” Trump said.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters Trump was lying and that Kim suggested a “realistic proposal” in which Trump was not interested.
Trump’s leaving Kim stranded in Vietnam appeared to greatly enrage the dictator. Elderly top aide Kim Yong-chol reportedly lost his job after the summit. Another four senior officials, according to reports in South Korean media published this week, were executed via firing squad in the immediate aftermath of the summit. Chosun Ilbo, a conservative South Korean newspaper, reported that rumors of the executions suggested that Kim made other senior officials watch the killings as a warning.
Asia Press, the outlet that originally reported the killings, added the caveat that North Korea itself may have fabricated the rumor.
Putin has attempted to place himself at the forefront of the campaign to enrich the Kim regime by lifting sanctions in the aftermath of his meeting with Kim. To that end, he called for the resumption of multilateral talks with North Korea to find a solution that pleases Pyongyang.
“I’m not sure these talks need to be resumed right now but I am confident that if we reach a stage where we will need to develop … security guarantees for North Korea, international guarantees will be necessary,” he told reporters after the summit.
Putin called Kim an “interesting and substantive interlocutor” and promised to be “frank and open” about his relationship with Kim to Washington.