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Kim seeks support from Putin in first summit

North Korean leader asks Russian president to convey his views to American side

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Mr Putin (right) welcoming Mr Kim prior to their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky island in Vladivostok on Thursday.

Moscow

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong-un sought Vladimir Putin's help in resolving a nuclear stalemate with the United States, asking the Russian president at their first summit to convey his views to US President Donald Trump.

"Chairman Kim Jong-un himself asked us to inform the American side about his position," Mr Putin told reporters after more than three hours of talks on a university campus in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok.

"There are no secrets here. We will discuss this with the Americans and our Chinese partners," said Mr Putin.

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While Russia extended the invitation to Mr Kim almost a year ago, the North Korean leader only accepted after his second summit with Mr Trump broke down in February without agreements on relief from United Nations sanctions that are choking his economy or steps toward Mr Kim's disarmament. Since then, North Korea has complained that intermediaries to Mr Trump aren't getting his message across.

"I had candid and meaningful talks with Putin on developing friendly relations between North Korea and Russia," Mr Kim said at a reception with his Russian counterpart after the meetings.

For Mr Putin, hosting Mr Kim gives him a chance to remain a player in a security dispute shaped mainly by the US and China. The Russian trip advances Mr Kim's efforts to break his country's isolation. After ruling for six years without leaving home, he's visited five nations since his rapprochement with Mr Trump, including China, Russia, Singapore, Vietnam and a short hop over the South Korean border.

Mr Kim, who kept Mr Putin waiting almost a year for the summit, was also more than 30 minutes behind the Russian president's arrival at the venue. "We welcome your efforts to develop inter-Korean dialogue and to normalise North Korean and American relations," Mr Putin told Mr Kim.

Neither side released details of what was discussed at the meetings, which appeared cordial. Mr Putin said he shares the US desire to see full denuclearisation, but added that North Korea would need security guarantees, most likely international, to protect its sovereignty. He said a return to six-party talks, an arrangement that included Russia and Japan, as well as China, the US and the two Koreas, could be useful for that.

Mr Kim, who arrived aboard an armoured train Wednesday, hasn't met with the Russian leader since coming to power in 2011. But ties between Moscow and Pyongyang run deep with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin helping Mr Kim's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, set up the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in World War II's aftermath.

"If the Hanoi summit had gone well, North Korea would not have needed to visit Russia," said Kim Sung-han, dean of Korea University's Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul and a former vice minister at the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, referring to Mr Kim's failed meeting with Mr Trump in February.

The Russia trip comes after Mr Kim gave a speech at the country's rubber-stamp Parliament this month where he said he is willing to meet Mr Trump again as long as the US offers acceptable terms for a deal by-year end. BLOOMBERG