North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have reportedly agreed to hold a summit. The two leaders stopped short of mentioning specific timing and venue of the summit, but watchers say that the summit could take place before the North Korea-U.S. summit scheduled in Singapore on June 12. Some analysts say that a summit among North Korea, China and Russia could take place on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCI), an economic and security cooperation body spearheaded by China and Russia, which will take place in Qingdao, China next Saturday and Sunday.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun reported on Friday that while meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who visited North Korea on Thursday, Chairman Kim Jong Un “agreed to the convening of a summit between the supreme leaders of North Korea and Russia.” The newspaper went on to say, “The two sides agreed on activating high-level exchanges this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.” It is the first time that a North Korean media outlet has mentioned a summit meeting between the two leaders.
Considering that President Putin wishes to see the leaders of North Korea and Russia make a unified voice on resolution of issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula ahead of the Pyongyang-Washington summit, watchers predict a Pyongyang-Moscow summit could take place even as early as next week. During his visit to the North, Minister Lavrov emphasized “lifting of sanctions against Pyongyang should come before North Korea’s complete denuclearization,” in expressing Moscow’s support of “phased denuclearization” demanded by the North.
Some watchers are paying attention to the fact President Putin will pay a state visit to China to attend the SCO summit on Saturday and Sunday next week. Qingdao is a location close to the North, and North Korean leader Kim can easily visit the city by air. Watchers thus predict if a Pyongyang-Moscow summit takes place in Qingdao, it will happen before the SCO summit. Additionally, it cannot be ruled out that a three-way summit among Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow that also involves Chinese President Xi Jinping will take place and they will make a joint statement on resolution of issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
Wan-Jun Yun firstname.lastname@example.org