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PoliticsNorth Korea

Russia's Lavrov meets North Korea's Kim, slams US policy

October 19, 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting with members of North Korea's ruling regime in Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for a possible visit by Vladimir Putin.

Sergey Lavrov shakes hands with Kim Jong Un
The US has expressed concern over growing Russia-North Korea ties Image: Russian Foreign Ministry/REUTERS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned US policy towards North Korea as "dangerous" during a visit to Pyongyang on Thursday. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Lavrov met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported without providing further details. 

Lavrov also hailed the "new, strategic level" of relations between Russia and North Korea. He is on a two-day visit paving the way for a possible trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin later this year. 

"Like our North Korean friends, we are seriously worried about the intensification of military activity of the United States, Japan and South Korea in the region and by Washington's policies. We oppose this unconstructive and dangerous line," Lavrov said, Russian news agencies reported.

Lavrov also thanked North Korea for its strong support for Russia's war on Ukraine.

He claimed the US was placing "strategic infrastructure, including nuclear elements" in the region.

His comments come as the US and its regional allies warn of North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. 

Lavrov later thanked North Korea for its strong support for Russia's war on Ukraine.

South Korea and the US have ramped up their security ties and included Japan as an ally, as Pyongyang has been conducting a vast number of weapons tests. 

Why are Russia and North Korea getting closer?

Lavrov arrived in North Korea a day earlier as the two countries forge closer defense ties.

Lavrov, who last visited the isolated country in 2018, met with his North Korean counterpart, Choe Son Hui, in Pyongyang.

"We highly value your principled, unambiguous support for Russia's actions in connection with the special military operation in Ukraine," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

A Kremlin spokesperson said Lavrov's two-day visit could also lay the groundwork for a future trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov also briefed the North Koreans on Putin's recent China visit, according to Russian media.

Lavrov's visit to Pyongyang comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare visit to Russia's Far East in September to meet with Putin.

Then, the two leaders agreed to strengthen defense ties. Analysts believe Russia  is seeking to use North Korea's stockpiles of ammunition for its invasion of Ukraine, while North Korea seeks access to Russian advanced technologies for its nuclear weapons program.

US Special Representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, said on Tuesday that the closeness between North Korea and Russia was "worrying."

The US has claimed that arms shipments are already underway, presenting evidence last week that North Korea delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia.

Vladimir Putin toasts to 'strengthening of cooperation' with Korea

tg,zc/wmr (Reuters, AFP)