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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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Trump sets foot in North Korea; agrees with Kim to resume talks

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday (June 30) when he met its leader, Kim Jong Un, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.

The meeting, initiated a spur-of-the-moment tweet by Trump that Kim said took him by surprise, once again displayed the rapport between the two. But they are no closer to narrowing the gap between their positions since they walked away from their summit in February in Vietnam.

The two men shook hands warmly and expressed hopes for peace when they met for the third time in just over a year on the old Cold War frontier that for decades has symbolized the hostility between their countries, which are technically still at war.

Trump, escorted by Kim, briefly crossed a military demarcation line into the North side of the Joint Security Area (JSA), patrolled by soldiers from both Koreas.

“It’s just an honor to be with you and it was an honor that you asked me to step over that (Military Demarcation) line and I was proud to step over the line. I thought you might do that. I wasn’t sure, but I was ready to do it. And I want to thank you. It’s been great, it’s been great. Very historic,” said Trump.

Moments later, they returned to the southern side and joined South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in for a brief chat, marking an unprecedented three-way gathering.

Trump and Kim then held a closed-door meeting for nearly an hour.

“Our great relationship will continue to create good events that others can’t expect. I am confident that it will be mystical powers to lead us to overcome all the obstacles,” said Kim.

Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June last year, and agreed to improve relations and work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

But the second summit in Hanoi broke down after the two sides failed to narrow differences between a U.S. demand for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief. (REUTERS)

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Trump tells Putin: Don’t meddle in U.S. elections

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 28th, 2019

Meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump | Courtesy: Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday (June 28) told Russian President Vladimir Putin not to meddle in the U.S. elections, appearing to make light of a scandal that led to a two-year investigation into his campaign’s contact with the Kremlin during the 2016 elections.

Asked by a reporter whether he would raise the issue during a meeting with Putin, Trump said: “Yes, of course I will.”

Trump then turned to Putin to give the directive twice while pointing at the Russian leader. Putin maintained a smile as the remark was interpreted for him.

The two leaders were heading into talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan’s western city of Osaka, their first formal face-to-face meeting since a controversial high-profile summit in Helsinki last July.

Relations between the two countries have been sour for years, worsening after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war.

In a recent television interview, Putin said that relations between Moscow and Washington were “getting worse and worse.”

For his part, Trump has sought better relations with Putin to tackle a host of issues, including his goal to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On Friday, he emphasized the positive.

“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin,” Trump told reporters. “We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament.”

Trump and Putin had been scheduled to meet at the end of November at the last G20 in Buenos Aires, but Trump cancelled the meeting as he flew to Argentina, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy ships and sailors. The two spoke informally at the event, and at a lunch in Paris earlier that month.

“We’ve had great meetings. We’ve had a very, very good relationship,” Trump said on Friday. “And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things going to come out of the relationship.”

In May, the two leaders had their first extensive phone conversation in months. Trump said they talked about a new accord to limit nuclear arms that could eventually include China.

Russia is under punitive sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union and wants them lifted.

Trump’s critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and slammed him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (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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