N KOREAN LEADER arrives for summit with Putin

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in the Russian city of Vladivostok on Wednesday for a summit he is likely to use to seek support from President Vladimir Putin while Pyongyang’s nuclear talks with Washington are in limbo.
The armoured train carrying Kim — on his first official visit to Russia — pulled into the quayside station in Vladivostok, on the Pacific Ocean, a few hours after crossing from North Korea into Russia.
After a brief delay while the door of Kim’s carriage was lined up with a red carpet laid out on the platform, the door opened and a smiling Kim stepped out.
Earlier, at a stop on the border, Kim told Russian state television he was hoping for useful and successful discussions with Putin.
“I hope that we can discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations,” he said through an interpreter.
Kim will sit down for talks with Putin today at a university campus on an island just off Vladivostok. It will be the first summit between the two leaders, and the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme will top the agenda, according to a Kremlin foreign policy aide.
The meeting comes two months after a summit in Vietnam between Kim and US President Donald Trump broke down over disagreement on ending the North’s nuclear programme.
A North Korean official heavily involved in advancing the US-North Korean talks, Kim Yong Chol, was removed from a top post, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported. He had visited the White House in January to meet Trump.
Now that negotiations with Washington are stalled, Pyongyang is looking for alternative sources of international support, including from Russia, and for possible relief from sanctions that are hurting the North Korean economy.
For Putin the summit is an opportunity to show that Russia remains a major global player despite being under sanctions itself over its intervention in Ukraine and allegations that it meddled in US elections. But analysts predicted that Kim is unlikely to emerge from the summit with any substantial promises of sanctions relief.
The meeting is likely to focus more on showing camaraderie. — Reuters