Seoul, Sep 11 (EFE).- A train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have departed from Pyongyang and is possible headed towards Russia’s Vladivostok, where the leader could meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean government officials told local news agency Yonhap on Monday.
“The intelligence authorities believe the train presumed to be carrying Kim Jong-un is moving to Vladivostok,” an official told Yonhap on the condition of anonymity. Another official also separately confirmed the reports.
Hours earlier, government officials in Russia’s Far East – the region that includes Vladivostok – had told Russian news agency Interfax that they were expecting a visit by the North Korean leader shortly.
Last week, United States’ media had published reports revealing the visit’s possibility and said that Putin could be seeking to buy munitions from Pyongyang to use in Ukraine.
However, the Kremlin has maintained silence over the possible meeting even as the Eastern Economic Forum kicked off in Vladivostok on Sunday, simply informing that Putin will meet Chinese vice premier Zhang Guoqing and the vice president of Laos, Pany Yathotou on the sidelines of the event.
It is not known when Kim is set to arrive at Vladivostok, which is situated around 700 kms away from Pyongyang.
Kim’s first and only Russia visit so far took place in April 2019, when the leader traveled in his armed train for a journey that lasted around 20 hours to reach the coastal city in Russia.
If officially confirmed, this would be Kim’s first overseas visit since then, as the regime had completely shut down North Korean borders in early 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and only recently began allowing the entry of people from abroad, with strict protocols still in place.
In the wake of the breakdown of denuclearization negotiations with the United Nations in 2019, North Korea has expedited efforts to strengthen ties and find common ground with China and Russia in the face of rising tensions with Washington and Seoul.
The growing polarization of the world in the backdrop of the Ukraine war is also contributing to regional tensions. EFE