By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his resolve to fulfil agreements made at his summit last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he met visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, state media KCNA reported on Friday.
Kim took a rare trip to Russia last month during which he invited Putin to Pyongyang and discussed military cooperation, including over North Korea’s satellite programme, and the war in Ukraine.
Kim and Lavrov discussed ways to ramp up cooperation to actively respond to regional and global issues based on “solid political and strategic trust relations,” and Lavrov conveyed Putin’s greetings to Kim, KCNA said.
Kim pledged to “work out a stable, forward-looking, far-reaching plan for the DPRK-Russia relations in the new era by faithfully implementing the agreements … and push forward with the cause of building a powerful state,” KCNA said.
He was referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui and Lavrov signed a plan for exchanges in 2024-25 as they held separate talks to follow up on the summit and explore greater cooperation on the economy, culture and advanced science and technology, KCNA said.
The two diplomats also discussed how to place bilateral ties “on a higher stage,” it said.
“Both sides had an in-depth exchange of views on intensifying joint action on several regional and international issues including the situation on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asian region and reached a consensus of views on them,” KCNA said in another dispatch.
Lavrov has departed Pyongyang after the meetings, it said.
Lavrov, at a reception after arriving in Pyongyang on Wednesday, thanked Pyongyang’s “unwavering and principled support” for Russia in the Ukraine war, and vowed “complete support and solidarity” for the North, according to Moscow’s foreign ministry.
‘FIRST TARGET OF DESTRUCTION’
Russia and North Korea have been seeking to forge closer ties in the face of what they see as a hostile and aggressive U.S.-led Western camp.
Seoul and Washington have expressed concerns about growing exchanges between Moscow and Pyongyang, and the U.S. has stepped up military drills with Japan in response to North Korea’s evolving military threats, involving an aircraft carrier and other strategic assets.
In a separate commentary, KCNA criticised the U.S. deployment of the strategic assets, including a B-52 bomber and F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, and the joint exercises.
Those assets would be “the first targets of destruction” if signs of any attack on North Korea were detected, it said, adding the country has already enacted “the policy of nuclear force which allowed the necessary procedures of action.”
“This is the intentional nuclear war provocative moves of the U.S.,” the commentary said.
“Now that the U.S. and gangsters of the ‘Republic of Korea’ have committed a provocation of nuclear war against the DPRK, the DPRK will take corresponding option,” it said, referring to South Korea.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Diane Craft and Sandra Maler)