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Putin, Kim exchange firearms, space glove in historic meeting

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged gifts during their rendezvous at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region of the Russian Far East. The meeting, which took place at a space center, saw the two leaders engaging in a warm 40-second handshake.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that both leaders had presented each other with notable items. Putin offered Kim a high-quality Russian-made rifle, accompanied by a glove from a cosmonaut’s space suit that had ventured into space on multiple occasions. In return, Kim bestowed upon Putin a North Korean-manufactured firearm, among other gifts.

The exchange of these firearms and space-related memorabilia marks a unique moment in international diplomacy. Putin’s passion for outdoor activities and hunting has been well-documented, making the rifle exchange a fitting gesture.

Moreover, Moscow revealed that Putin graciously accepted Kim’s invitation to visit the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, an announcement previously made by North Korea’s state television. To facilitate this visit, Russia plans to send Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Pyongyang in October, paving the way for a presidential visit.

This forthcoming visit would mark Putin’s second trip to North Korea, with his last visit occurring in July 2000 when he met Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong Un’s late father, shortly after assuming the presidency. Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un’s stay in Russia is expected to extend for several more days, according to the Kremlin.

Kim’s itinerary in Russia includes a visit to a facility in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where Russian fighter jets, including the Su-35 and Su-57, are manufactured. His arrival in Komsomolsk-on-Amur was met with a ceremonial welcome by regional officials, complete with a red carpet at the railway station.

Additionally, Kim is scheduled to visit Vladivostok to inspect Russia’s Pacific fleet, a university, and other facilities, as announced by Putin on Russian state TV.

North Korean state media have hailed Kim’s summit with Putin as a “historic” event. Meanwhile, South Korean authorities are closely monitoring the situation, particularly regarding the potential announcement of joint military drills between North Korea and Russia, given the presence of senior military figures in both leaders’ delegations.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-kyou acknowledged the possibility of closer military ties between Putin and Kim and stated their intent to closely monitor any developments.

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