Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sat down for talks on Wednesday at Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome space center, where Putin said the two "have a lot" to discuss, reports CNN.
“I am very glad to see and welcome you again in Russia. This time, as we agreed, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome,” Putin said while seated alongside Kim.
"Of course, we need to talk about issues of economic cooperation, humanitarian issues, and the situation in the region. We have a lot of questions [to discuss]."
Kim thanked Putin for his invite to the country and said the two countries have "many issues" that they can cooperate on.
"As you said, the agenda between our countries, including the political, economic, and cultural issues; and there are many issues that our two countries need to cooperate and for us to receive help on in our war of independence as the people of our countries anticipate.
In this situation, I believe this moment will serve to raise our bilateral relations to the next step, to a new height," Kim said.
The North Korean leader went on to tell Putin it was an honor the meeting was being held "at this special place, a space launch site which is like the heart of the space power, which your country has the status of, and giving this opportunity for us to have a deeper understanding of space power’s today and tomorrow.”
Kim also praised Russia for having "stood up against the hegemonic forces" to defend its sovereignty and security, a veiled reference to the US and the West, and said he has expressed "the full and unconditional support to all that Russia does in response."
"And that in the frontline of anti-imperialism and independence, I will always be standing with Russia, I’m using this opportunity to make it clear," the North Korean leader said.
Ahead of the meeting, US officials warned that a potential arms deal could see Pyongyang provide weapons for Moscow to use in the war against Ukraine.
Earlier, the North Korean leader arrived in his bullet-proof train at the border town of Khasan on Tuesday and was met by an honour guard and officials, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
While Kim was in Russia, North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a string of sanctions-busting tests.
Kim said his visit – a rare foreign trip and his first since the pandemic – was "a clear manifestation" of North Korea "prioritising the strategic importance" of its ties with Russia.
Later the same day, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un could be seen shaking hands at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East in video footage released by the Kremlin.