Russian President Vladimir Putin invited North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to visit Moscow on Thursday, promising to “make all necessary efforts to establish ties” such as economic cooperation with the communist dictatorship.
“I would like to re-extend, and ask you to convey to the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un, our invitation to visit Russia,” Putin told Kim Yong-nam, the country’s 90-year-old ceremonial leader. “We can schedule this meeting regardless of international events between our foreign ministries.”
According to a transcript released by the Kremlin, Putin also praised the regime for their recent diplomatic efforts with the United States, which included a meeting in Singapore where the two nations agreed to develop peaceful relations while North Korea committed itself “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
“We also welcome and praise the outcome of the meeting between the leader of North Korea, comrade Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump that took place recently,” Putin said. “Now there are prospects of resolving the problems by peaceful political and diplomatic means.”
“Thanks to this meeting a possible negative scenario has been cast aside,” he continued. “Certainly it creates conditions for further forward movement and decreases general tensions around the Korean peninsula.”
He added that Russia would now “make all necessary efforts to establish ties, including in economic cooperation” with North Korea.
In response to the invitation, Kim Yong-nam sent his superior’s “sincere regards” and “absolute support of the people of Russia.”
“Above all, I have the honor to convey to you, with special respect, sincere regards from Chairman of the State Council of the DPRK Comrade Kim Jong-un,” he said, adding that Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup represented an “an important opportunity to celebrate the great Russian nation across the world, and also to maintain economic growth and promote physical fitness and sport.”
Russia and North Korea have had close diplomatic ties since the end of the Korean War, with Russia providing vital economic support to the country while opposing international sanctions against the regime. Putin was also a close friend of Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, with the pair both visiting each other in their respective capitals.
In 2015, the two even nations declared a “Year of Friendship” through a number of political, economic and cultural exchanges. That same year, Kim Jong-un was invited to visit Russia for the first time, but eventually canceled the trip due to “internal affairs.”