Putin Gets Lavish Welcome in North Korea, Signs Partnership Pact with Kim 

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2-R) attend an official welcoming ceremony during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. (EPA/ Gavriil Grigorov / Sputnik / Kremlin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2-R) attend an official welcoming ceremony during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. (EPA/ Gavriil Grigorov / Sputnik / Kremlin)
TT

Putin Gets Lavish Welcome in North Korea, Signs Partnership Pact with Kim 

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2-R) attend an official welcoming ceremony during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. (EPA/ Gavriil Grigorov / Sputnik / Kremlin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2-R) attend an official welcoming ceremony during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. (EPA/ Gavriil Grigorov / Sputnik / Kremlin)

Cheering crowds and lavish ceremonies greeted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang on Wednesday, where he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement upgrading their countries' ties to a "comprehensive strategic partnership". 

Kim expressed "unconditional support" for "all of Russia's policies", including "a full support and firm alliance" for Putin's war with Ukraine at a summit with the Russian leader who was making his first visit to the North in 24 years. 

Putin's visit, which likely to reshape decades of Russia-North Korea relations at a time when both face international isolation is being watched closely by Seoul and Washington, which have expressed concern about their growing military ties. 

The reaction from China, the North's main political and economic benefactor and an increasingly important ally for Moscow, has been muted. 

An honor guard including mounted soldiers, and a large crowd of civilians gathered at the Kim Il Sung Square by the Taedong River running through the capital in a grand welcome ceremony for Putin. The scene included children holding balloons and giant portraits of the two leaders with national flags adorning the square's main building. 

Kim and Putin then rode to the Kumsusan Palace for summit talks. 

"We highly appreciate your consistent and unwavering support for Russian policy, including in the Ukrainian direction," Russian state news agency RIA quoted Putin as saying at the start of the talks. 

Putin said Moscow was fighting the hegemonic, imperialist policy of the United States and its allies, Russian media reported. 

Kim said North Korea-Russia relations were entering a period of "new high prosperity". 

'UNCONDITIONAL AND UNWAVERING SUPPORT' 

Following a summit with top aides then a one-on-one talks that lasted two hours, Putin and Kim signed a comprehensive strategic partnership pact, Russian media reported. Putin's foreign policy aide has said the pact would be the basis for a broader cooperation between the two countries. 

Earlier, Kim said the increasingly complicated security environment around the world called for a stronger strategic dialogue with Russia. 

"And I want to reaffirm that we will unconditionally and unwaveringly support all of Russia's policies," Kim told Putin. 

North Korea "expresses full support and solidarity to the Russian government, army and people in carrying out a special military operation in Ukraine to protect sovereignty, security interests, as well as territorial integrity", he said. 

Russia was hit with US-led Western sanctions after Putin launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022 in what Moscow called a "special military operation". 

Putin arrived at Pyongyang's airport earlier in the day. After Kim welcomed him with an embrace, the two shared "pent-up inmost thoughts" on the ride to the state guest house, North Korean state media said. 

The countries' partnership was an "engine for accelerating the building of a new multi-polar world" and Putin's visit demonstrated the invincibility and durability of their friendship and unity, North Korea's state news agency KCNA said. 

Russia has used its warming ties with North Korea to needle Washington, while heavily sanctioned North Korea has won political backing and promises of economic support and trade from Moscow. 

The United States and its allies say they fear Russia could provide aid for North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, which are banned by UN Security Council resolutions, and have accused Pyongyang of providing ballistic missiles and artillery shells that Russia has used in its war in Ukraine. 

Moscow and Pyongyang have denied weapons transfers. 

'ALTERNATE TRADE MECHANISM' 

After Putin's arrival in Pyongyang was delayed by hours, he emerged from his plane at a pre-dawn hour and was greeted by Kim on the red carpet alone, without the grand ceremony the North put on for Chinese President Xi Jinping on his 2019 visit. 

The pair then rode in Putin's Russian-made Aurus limousine to the Kumsusan State Guest House. 

State media photos showed streets of Pyongyang lined with portraits of Putin and the facade of the unfinished and vacant 101-story pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel brightly lit with a giant message "Welcome Putin". 

Wednesday's agenda includes a gala concert, state reception, honor guards, document signings and a statement to the media. 

In a signal that Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, is reassessing its approach to North Korea, Putin praised Pyongyang ahead of his arrival for resisting what he said was US economic pressure, blackmail and threats. 

In an article for North Korea's official ruling party newspaper, he promised to "develop alternative trade and mutual settlement mechanisms not controlled by the West" and "build an equal and indivisible security architecture in Eurasia". 

Putin's article implied that there was an opportunity for North Korea’s economic growth within an anti-West economic bloc led by Russia, a message likely to appeal to Kim Jong Un, wrote Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with the 38 North program in Washington. 



Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
TT

Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo

Azerbaijan is proposing to sign a document with Armenia on the basic principles of a future peace treaty as an interim measure as they wrangle over a broader deal, a senior Azerbaijani official said on Sunday.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly said they want to sign a peace treaty to end the conflict over the former breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, reported Reuters.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Saturday a text of a treaty was 80%-90% ready but repeated it was impossible to sign it before Armenia amended its constitution to remove an indirect reference to Karabakh independence, which Armenia has rejected.
Karabakh's ethnic Armenian inhabitants enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan for more than three decades until September 2023, when a lightning Azerbaijani offensive retook the territory and prompted around 100,000 Armenians to flee.
Both countries have in recent months sought to make progress on the peace treaty, including the demarcation of borders, with Armenia agreeing to hand over to Azerbaijan four contested border villages.
A document on the basic principles could be considered as a temporary measure and form the basis of the bilateral ties and ensure neighborly relations between the two countries, Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to the president, told Reuters.
It can be signed until Azerbaijan holds COP29 climate summit in November, Hajiyev added.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in June that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan was close to completion but that his country would not accept its demands that it change its constitution.
After he made those comments, clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, the latest in a series of protests denouncing his policies, including the handing back of ruined villages to Azerbaijan, and demanding his resignation.
On July 5, Constitution Day in Armenia, Pashinyan said the country needed a new constitution "which the people will consider to be what they created, what they accepted, what is written in it is their idea of the state they created and the relations between people and citizens in that state".