Putin receives high-ranking envoy from DPRK

Updated: 2014-11-19 10:11


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MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has received a special envoy of Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

Choe Ryong-hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea, has handed Putin a message from Kim Jong-un, Peskov told reporters, without providing further details.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said earlier that the sides would discuss key issues of bilateral relations, including steps to raise the level of their political dialogue and ways to intensify trade and economic cooperation.

The situation on the Korean peninsula and in the Northeast Asia region, as well as certain international topics of mutual interest could also be discussed during Choe's eight-day visit, which will also take him to Russia's Far East cities of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok near the DPRK border on his way back home.

Choe's arrival followed a series of high-ranking visits by DPRK officials this year. Vice-Marshal Hyon Yong-chol, Minister of the People's Armed Forces, met Putin in Moscow on Nov 8 and conveyed Kim Jong-un's greetings. DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong visited Russia on Sept 30.

Local experts said Choe's visit testified to the improving ties between Moscow and Pyongyang, as the latter has apparently been seeking to diversify its diplomatic relations.

"A visit to Moscow of a DPRK official of such senior level is a logical continuation of the policy aimed at increasing cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang in all spheres," Alexander Vorontsov, head of Korea and Mongolia department of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua.

He called it "possible and logical" that Choe's visit could be preparations for the visit of the DPRK leader Kim Jong-un to Russia.

Kim Yen-un, a senior researcher at the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the two sides will "definitely" discuss the top-level visit.

"But it's too early to predict the exact timing," said the expert.