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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Dilma Rousseff (not pictured), Chair of the New Development Bank, in Strelna, outside Saint Petersburg, on July 26, 2023. — AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Dilma Rousseff (not pictured), Chair of the New Development Bank, in Strel’na, outside Saint Petersburg, on July 26, 2023. — AFP

In a surprise visit to Pyongyang by a top Russian official Wednesday amid rising regional tensions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was presented with a “warm letter” from President Vladimir Putin by his defence minister Sergey Shoigu.

According to North Korean media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) Thursday, Kim thanked Putin for his letter.

The visit by the Russian official comes to participate in the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War 1950-1953.

KCNA reported that Kim and Shoigu talked about “further developing [of] strategic and traditional DPRK-Russia relations.”

The Russian minister also visited the exhibition by the host’s defence ministry where he saw “new-type weapons and equipment” produced by the country’s arms industry.”

This picture taken on July 26, 2023, shows Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visiting the statues of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansu Hill in Pyongyang. — AFP
This picture taken on July 26, 2023, shows Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visiting the statues of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansu Hill in Pyongyang. — AFP

While meeting his counterpart Kang Sun-nam, Shoigu hailed the “rich history of cooperation” between the two countries, adding that “regular military exchanges had helped to “maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Defence Minister Shoigu said: “For Russia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is an important partner, with which we share a common border and a rich history of cooperation.”

This picture taken on July 25, 2023, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War. — AFP
This picture taken on July 25, 2023, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War. — AFP

Footage was also released by the defence ministry of a roundtable meeting with officials, which the Russian minister said would “contribute to strengthening cooperation between our ministries of defence”.

Russian and Chinese delegations, North Korea’s first known foreign visitors since its pandemic border closure, came to Pyongyang to attend Korean War anniversary events.

Shoigu said he was “grateful to my Korean friends for the rich programme offered. From the first minutes I felt your care and attention”.

Russia, a historic ally of North Korea, is one of a handful of nations with which it maintains friendly relations.

Last year, the foreign ministry of North Korea said that relations with Russia reached “new strategic heights,” despite the “hegemonic actions of the United States and its satellites.”

North Korea rejected the US sanctions on Russia after Moscow’s special military operation against Ukraine that commenced in February 2022.

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