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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their talks in Vladivostok, Russia, April 25, 2019 (Photo by Alexei Nikolsky for Sputnik via AP Images).

At a Mostly Symbolic Summit, Putin and Kim Play the Long Game

Friday, April 26, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first trip to Russia this week for a long-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin. Kim traveled by train to the far eastern port city of Vladivostok, about 75 miles from the North Korean border, where he and Putin met Thursday and discussed the North Korean nuclear issue, as well as bilateral economic engagement.

It was the first meeting between the two leaders since Kim rose to power in 2011, although Putin is acquainted with the Kim family dynasty. He previously met with the young dictator’s father, Kim Jong Il, three times in the early 2000s—once in Pyongyang and twice in Russia. A warm mood prevailed in Vladivostok, as Putin held a banquet in Kim’s honor and affectionately referred to him as “comrade chairman.” Kim repeatedly thanked Putin for “flying here from faraway Moscow,” even though the location was a convenient stopover en route to Beijing, where Putin is attending a summit for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. ...

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