Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at an early date, Pyongyang’s state media said Wednesday.
The message was delivered to the North’s leader as Putin congratulated North Korea on the 73rd anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“I am satisfied with the fact that the relations between our two states have friendly and constructive characters,” Putin was quoted as saying by the KCNA.
“I affirm that I am ready to meet you at an early date to discuss urgent issues of bilateral relations and important matters of the region,” Putin added.
He also voiced hope for developing “reciprocal cooperation,” including trilateral economic projects involving the two Koreas and Moscow.
In response, Kim sent a message to his Russian counterpart, which highlighted the development of the two nations’ friendly relations, the KCNA added.
Putin earlier invited Kim to an annual economic forum to be held in Vladivostok in September though the North’s leader has yet to reveal his response. The two countries have agreed to hold a summit by the end of 2018.
North Korea’s official newspaper on Thursday repeated its call on South Korea not to follow foreign forces’ sanctions on Pyongyang, saying sanctions pressure and relationship improvement cannot be compatible.
The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary that inter-Korean relations can hardly move forward in the interests of the Korean people if sanctions pressure from foreign forces is blindly supported and followed by the South.
The commentary was published in apparent response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Liberation Day address the previous day, which called for complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula ahead of full-fledged inter-Korean economic cooperation.
Besides the Rodong Sinmun, the North’s external propaganda media outlets have recently stepped up calls on the South to choose between sanctions and relationship improvement.
“If the (South) joins and blindly follows sanctions pressure by foreign forces maneuvering to deter inter-Korean exchanges, the North-South relations cannot be advanced in the interests of the Korean people and the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration cannot be pushed,” said the Rodong Sinmun, referring to the inter-Korean agreement reached at the April 27 summit.
The newspaper then accused the United States of exerting pressure on the South’s authorities, corporations and private organizations not to engage in exchanges and cooperation with the North.
“The U.S. is unjustly intervening in the internal affairs of our nation and the inter-Korean relationship, hindering the reconciliation, unity, dialogue and cooperation between Koreas,” said the paper.
It then stressed that all the problems arising from the improvement of inter-Korean relations should be resolved independently and through the unity of the Korean people.
“Cooperation within our nation, or national self-reliance, is the basic position for the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and improvement of inter-Korean relationship,” the paper said.