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Russian minister heads back home after visit to N. Korea

North Korea 18:01 April 03, 2019

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- Russia's interior minister left Pyongyang on Wednesday after a three-day visit, the North's media reported, amid speculation that leader Kim Jong-un might be preparing to visit the neighboring country for his first-ever summit with President Vladimir Putin.

Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev arrived in Pyongyang on Monday, and has since held talks with the North's minister of people's security. He also paid a visit to the North's titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, who is president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

The North's Korean Central News Agency reported his departure for home, but gave no details.

The Russian official's trip drew attention as it came amid signs that the two countries are making preparations for the North's leader to visit Moscow. Kolokoltsev is said to be in charge of security issues as interior minister.

Earlier, Kim Chang-son, known as Kim Jong-un's de facto chief of staff, visited Moscow and Vladivostok, spawning speculation that a Russia trip by the leader might be imminent.

Leader Kim has visited China four times since last year for summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping, including the latest one in January. However, he has not traveled to Russia since taking office in late 2011.

North Korea appears to be intensifying its diplomacy with Russia since the breakdown of February's summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump. Three senior North Korean officials made back-to-back visits to Russia last month.

This photo from North Korea's Korean Central News Agency shows Russia's Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev shaking hands with North Korea's Minister of People's Security Choe Pu-il during a meeting in Pyongyang on April 2, 2019. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)


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