Putin Hails N. Korea's Support for Ukraine War Ahead of Pyongyang Visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
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Putin Hails N. Korea's Support for Ukraine War Ahead of Pyongyang Visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday hailed North Korea for "firmly supporting" Moscow's war in Ukraine ahead of a visit to Pyongyang set to boost defense ties between the two nuclear-armed countries.
Putin is scheduled to touch down on Tuesday night for his first trip to the isolated nation in 24 years, with a confrontation between North and South Korean troops on their shared border highlighting regional security tensions, AFP said.
Moscow and Pyongyang have been allies since North Korea's founding after World War II, and they have drawn even closer since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to the West isolating Putin internationally.
The United States and its allies have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with much-needed arms, including ballistic missiles to use in Ukraine.
The North has denied giving Russia military hardware but, ahead of his trip, Putin thanked Kim Jong Un's government for helping the war effort.
"We highly appreciate that the DPRK (North Korea) is firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine," Putin wrote in an article published by Pyongyang's state media on Tuesday.
Russia and the North are "now actively developing the many-sided partnership," Putin wrote.
The trip will elevate ties to a "higher level" the Russian leader wrote, adding it would help develop "equal cooperation" between the two allies.
Both countries are under rafts on UN sanctions -- Pyongyang since 2006 over banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin praised the North for "defending their interests very effectively despite the US economic pressure, provocation, blackmail and military threats that have lasted for decades."
He also hailed Moscow and Pyongyang for "maintaining the common line and stand at the UN."
- US concern -
North Korea has described allegations of supplying weapons to Russia as "absurd".
However it did thank Russia for using its UN veto in March to effectively end monitoring of sanctions violations, just as UN experts were starting to probe alleged arms transfers.
The United States voiced "concern" on Monday about the trip because of the security implications for South Korea as well as Ukraine.
The two Koreas have remained technically at war since their 1950-53, and the border dividing them is one of the most heavily fortified in the world.
"We know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets (and) there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean peninsula," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporter.
Highlighting those security concerns, South Korea said its troops fired at soldiers from the North who briefly crossed the border on Tuesday then retreated.
The South's military said it believed the North Korean soldiers accidentally crossed as they were fortifying the border, but said some of them were injured after detonating landmines.



China's Xi Urges All-out Rescue Efforts after Deadly Highway Bridge Collapse

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a collapsed bridge is seen in Zhashui County in Shangluo City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Saturday, July 20, 2024. (Xinhua via AP)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a collapsed bridge is seen in Zhashui County in Shangluo City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Saturday, July 20, 2024. (Xinhua via AP)
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China's Xi Urges All-out Rescue Efforts after Deadly Highway Bridge Collapse

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a collapsed bridge is seen in Zhashui County in Shangluo City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Saturday, July 20, 2024. (Xinhua via AP)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a collapsed bridge is seen in Zhashui County in Shangluo City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Saturday, July 20, 2024. (Xinhua via AP)

President Xi Jinping urged all-out rescue efforts after a highway bridge collapse on Friday in Shaanxi province in China's northwest killed 11 people, state media reported on Saturday.

The incident occurred at 8:40 p.m. in Shangluo city on Friday when a highway bridge collapsed due to a flash flood, causing some vehicles to fall into the river.

As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, five vehicles were confirmed to have fallen into the water and 30 people were reported missing, state media said.

Xi said China is in a critical period for flood control and local governments must take responsibility to enhance monitoring and early warning.

A photo released by the official Xinhua News Agency showed a section of the bridge snapped and folded down at almost a 90-degree angle into the rushing brown water below.

China's national fire and rescue authority said on Saturday it had dispatched a rescue team to the site that included 859 people, 90 vehicles, 20 boats and 41 drones.

China's western and southwestern provinces are particularly prone to flooding and landslides due to their mountainous landscapes and the powerful rivers that run through them. Mining, tourism and rising urbanization have also disturbed a precarious balance with the natural environment that had been sustained over thousands of years.