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Jong-Un Arrives in Russia as Disappointment With Pompeo Grows

Kim Jong-Un and Vladamir Putin are meeting after North Korea's disappointment with the US grows. (Photos via Pixabay)
Kim Jong-Un and Vladamir Putin are meeting after North Korea's disappointment with the US grows. (Photos via Pixabay)

After calling U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo an immature negotiator, North Korea turns to a summit in Russia.

Speaking to Russia’s state-owned Rossiya-24, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said he’s hoping for a “successful and useful” visit and would like to discuss with Putin the “settlement of the situation in the Korean Peninsula” as well as bilateral ties with Russia.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday following the former’s effort to exclude U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from North Korea-U.S. nuclear negotiations.

“Following an invitation from Vladimir Putin … Kim Jong-Un will visit Russia in the second half of April,” the Kremlin said in a statement last week.

The Kremlin at first did not specify either the exact date or location of the meeting, citing security concerns. However, local Russian media organizations reported that the event would take place in Vladivostok, the port city located 130 kilometers (approximately 81 miles) from North Korea’s borders.

The location is ideal for Jong-Un, who prefers traveling by train. Jong-Un’s father, the late Kim Jong-il, also met Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.

Vladivostok residents are looking forward to welcoming Jong-Un, provided that the city rarely holds world-class events. They are doing their best to prepare, especially because the dialogue between both leaders will gain the world’s attention.

Russia is known to have a good relationship with Pyongyang as the former often delivers food aid. Putin previously expressed his readiness to meet with the 36-year-old leader.

On Wednesday, a North Korean envoy arrived in Moscow to prepare for a meeting with Putin. The envoy also held talks with several Russian officials, as Russia’s media outlets reported.

Jong-Un Seeks a ‘Mature’ Mediator as He No Longer Trusts Pompeo

North Korea stated that it no longer wished to deal with Pompeo and wanted a “mature” figure for a mediator. The statement came after North Korea announced its first weapons test following the collapsed nuclear talks with U.S. President Trump last February in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Jong-Un’s refusal to involve Pompeo is due to the assumption that the former CIA director had delayed the pace of the negotiation. Pompeo is viewed as an immature negotiator. Joseph Yun, who served as the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea until last year, said Pyongyang had cast doubt over Pompeo, saying that Pompeo is a conservative figure.

Kim’s demand for Pompeo’s removal reflected the North Korean leader’s desire to talk with Trump, and the chance of a third meeting is still open, said Woo Jung-Yeop, a researcher at the Sejong Institute.

Woo told Bloomberg: “North Korea wants to talk to Trump. It is not a matter of who replaces Pompeo.”

Pompeo’s remarks urging North Korea to surrender its weapons sooner rather than later was linked with Pyongyang’s criticism of him. “He said he wanted it done by the end of the year. I’d love to see that done sooner,” Pompeo stated.

Despite Jong-Un’s criticism, Pompeo confirmed that nothing has changed in the negotiating team with Pyongyang, adding he is still in charge of the North Korea negotiations.

“President Trump is obviously in charge of the overall effort, but it will be my team, special representative {Stephen} Biegun will continue to lead the efforts to achieve what Chairman Kim committed to do back in June of last year which was to denuclearize,” Pompeo briefed reporters at the State Department.

Will Russia be Involved in the Upcoming Trump-Jong-Un Talks?

At the end of 2017, Russia hinted that it was ready to mediate talks between North Korea and the U.S. if the negotiating parties agreed, as the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskow said.

“You can’t become a mediator between two countries just on your own will. It is impossible, you need both sides to be willing,” Peskov said.

Peskov’s statement came just a few days after the U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed a new sanction on North Korea after it tested the launching of 29 ballistic missiles. Washington formulated the sanction’s draft.

The faltered Hanoi meeting was allegedly related to the misunderstanding between President Trump and Jong-Un regarding sanctions. Trump claimed North Korea wanted Washington to eliminate the entire sanctions, but Pyongyang argued that it only wanted half the sanctions related to its economy to be removed.

As North Korea has been disappointed with Pompeo following the failure of the Hanoi talks, Jong-Un is turning to Russia to seek support from one of his allies. Moscow will not let this opportunity slip away, and it will warn that it still has influence in the region, both economically and politically, despite the fact that Russia’s main foreign policy focuses are still on Syria and former Soviet states.

Professor Andrei Lankov at Seoul’s Kookmin University told The Straits Times: “Russia needs some sort of control over the situation on the Korean peninsula. Recent events have pushed out almost everyone apart from North Korea and the US, and of course, nobody likes that.”

However, Moscow’s influence is not as significant as that of China, North Korea’s largest trading partner and important ally. Beijing will maintain North Korea under its sphere.

Lankov expressed doubt that the Putin-Jong-Un summit will produce a significant breakthrough that is vital in creating a sense of peace in the peninsula, adding that the summit will go on as usual with signed documents, but both leaders will soon forget about it

“There will be declarations, promises, they will sign yet another declaration of intent to increase trade 10 times in five years, but after two years they will forget about it,” Lankov added.

Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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1 Comment

  1. Simon Gunson April 25, 2019

    So USA which threatens North Korea wants DPRK to make a whole hearted effort by surrendering everything, whilst USA only offers to make a half hearted effort to restore normal relations.

    Meanwhile Russia and China who already have mutual defence agreements covering North Korea are willing to abandon sanctions and live with merely limiting DPRK’s nuclear capabilities. Already one can see that Trump & Pompeo don’t get it and that they are not on the same page. Not even in the same universe.

    Icing on the cake is that Pompeo thinks he is still in charge.


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