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Putin, Kim hold historic summit in Vladivostok

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in the port City of Vladivostok for their first ever summit on April 25. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met on Thursday (April 25) for their first ever summit.

The two shook hands on Russky island near the Port City of Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east.

Putin told Kim he expected his visit to Russia would help the two countries understand how to reach settlement over the Korean peninsula and develop bilateral ties.

“I am sure that your visit to Russia today will help to develop bilateral relations and will help us understand how to reach settlement over the Korean peninsula, what can we do together, what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are going on right now. We welcome your efforts to develop the inter-Korean dialogue and to normalize North Korean-U.S. relationship,” Putin said.

“I, too, hope that our meeting with you, Mr. President, will be useful for strengthening and development of traditional friendly relations between DPRK and Russia which run deep. And I would like to say that situation on Korean peninsula is attracting interest of the whole world society. I hope that our talks will become an important milestone to sum up the situation, exchange opinions about it and to negotiate resolution together,” Kim said.

Kim and Putin met for their unprecedented summit, where Kim is likely to seek support from the Russian leader as nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States are hanging in limbo.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Mr. Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam earlier this year without reaching an agreement.

According to Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment. That’s why it’s hardly possible to abstract away from this mechanism (the six-party talks). But on the other hand, you know that settlement efforts are being made by other countries as well. All efforts deserve support if they truly pursue the goal of denuclearizing society,” Peskov said.

The summit — the first ever between Putin and Kim — provides Pyongyang with an opportunity to seek support from a new quarter, Russia, and possible relief from the sanctions hurting its economy.

For the Kremlin, the summit is a chance to show it is a global diplomatic player, despite efforts by the united states and other western states to isolate it. REUTERS

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Putin has no plans to congratulate Zelenskiy on inauguration – Kremlin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked if Vladimir Putin will congratulate incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his inauguration, said the Russian president had no such plans.

He said on Monday (May 20) that Putin would congratulate his newly-elected counterpart if Zelenskiy makes progress in settling the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mending relations with Russia.

“I repeat, President (Vladimir) Putin will congratulate President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy on his first accomplishments in resolving the domestic conflict in Ukraine’s south-east and also on the first achievements in the normalisation of Russian-Ukrainian relations,” he said.

“Regarding where Crimea belongs to, as we have said multiple times, all in all there is no such question. And there cannot be one. It is a region within the Russian Federation. As to the south-east, Donbass, this is an interior problem in Ukraine that can be resolved and must be resolved by the president of Ukraine according to the strict plan of the Minsk agreements,” Peskov said

Zelenskiy, a comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidency by a landslide last month but his new party has no representation in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap poll while his popularity remains high.

As he took the oath in the Parliament on Monday (May 20), Zelenskiy said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year-old conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people.

He added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war. (REUTERS)

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Vietnamese woman accused of killing Kim Jong Un half-brother returns to hometown

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2019

A woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reunites with family in Vietnam. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was released from jail and returned to Vietnam on Friday (May 3) night.

Doan Thi Huong arrived back to her family home, a small town in the province of Nam Dinh, 130 km (80 miles) from Hanoi, in the early hours of Saturday (May 4).

“I want to thank Nam Dinh province and the police of my home town for supporting me and protecting me safely to come back home,” she said.

The 30-year-old was charged along with an Indonesian woman with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Huong last month after she pleaded guilty to an alternate charge of causing harm. (REUTERS)

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Trump returns to White House after summit collapse clouds future of U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2019

President Trump returns to White House on Thursday (February 28) following his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam. | Reuters

(REUTERS) — U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Washington D.C. Thursday (February 28) from Hanoi, Vietnam after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed over sanctions, and the two sides gave conflicting accounts of what happened, raising questions about the future of their denuclearisation negotiations.

Trump said two days of talks in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the main issue of denuclearisation, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.

“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”

However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a news conference past midnight and hours after Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions “related to people’s livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions”.

He said it had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the same briefing she had the impression that Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” after the U.S. side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, “something we had never offered before”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, asked about North Korea’s statements, said the president was aware of the comments and the White House had nothing to add to what Trump said at the Hanoi news conference.

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