Contrasting sharply with February’s disastrous summit in Hanoi, President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un declared that their three-hour summit meeting on Thursday was a success, and that the two leaders discussed the peace process on the Korean peninsula, along with important bilateral issues.
Speaking with reporters after the summit’s conclusion, Putin praised Kim’s “openness” and said he would convey North Korea’s concerns about the US’s denuclearization demands to the US and China, which are both taking a more active role in the peace process, according to CNN.
“We are all pleased with the outcome of the talks – both I and my colleagues,” Putin said. “Chairman Kim Jong Un is a fairly open person, leading a free discussion on all issues that were on the agenda.”
Asked if Kim would be willing to continue his contact with the US, Putin was noncommital, saying Kim would pursue his “national interests,” but added that “we can’t resolve anything without talks.”
On Friday, Putin will travel to Beijing, where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and share what was discussed during the talks. Putin insisted the conversation would be “open”, adding that “there are no conspiracies here.”
“Of course, I will speak tomorrow in Beijing with the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, but we will also openly and frankly discuss today’s meeting with the American leadership,” Putin said. “There are no secrets here, Russia’s position is always open, there are no conspiracies.”
Offering a glimpse at how China and Russia’s position on the talks between the US and North Korea, Putin has said that while Kim sincerely wants to denuclearize and Russia also supports denuclearization, the North will require international security guarantees before it surrenders its weapons. These guarantees would need to be offered within a multinational framework.
Meanwhile, Kim praised the summit as a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange,” and Putin added that the North Korean leader had asked him to convey the North’s position to the US.
The only way a workable agreement between the US and North Korea can be achieved would be through international law, Putin said, per the BBC.
“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the stronger.”
During a press conference before the beginning of the summit, Kim praised Putin, touted the “traditionally friendly ties” between Russia and North Korea, and declared that he hoped the summit would be a “milestone” in the talks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, RT reported.
Kim also thanked Putin for “taking time out of his busy schedule” to fly all the way to Vladivostok for the meeting. Kim, who traveled by train, actually covered a shorter distance, since the city is only 129 kilometers (about 80 miles) from Russia’s border with North Korea.
Talks with the US over denuclearization famously collapsed after both sides refused to budge from their diametrically opposed positions. Washington has insisted that the North must give up all of its nuclear weapons and shutter its nuclear facilities before sanctions are removed. Kim, meanwhile, has demanded that the US and UN agree to a schedule of sanctions relief in exchange for gradual progress on denuclearization. Kim had reportedly proposed closing the country’s biggest nuclear facility under international observation in exchange for the US ending all sanctions immediately, a request that, according to Trump, prompted him to walk away from the table.
In recent weeks, Kim has sounded increasingly impatient with the US, saying recently that the US must have a plan to relieve some sanctions by the end of the year, or the North would walk away from the peace talks.
As Putin prepares to debrief Xi on his talks with Kim, Beijng has issued what appears to be a veiled threat through one of its go-to English language mouthpieces, Global Times editor Hu Xijin.
Trust is difficult to be built from scratch between the US and NK. It needs effective help from int’l community where China and Russia can be of help. China, Russia strengthening communication with NK is good to protect current peaceful situation and promote negotiation process. https://t.co/LRScKXC0Rb
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) April 25, 2019
In other words, Washington better rethink its insistence on its ‘all-or-nothing’ approach…or else. And one can’t help but wonder if this also has implications for the never-ending trade deal negotiations.