A report published by CNN on Thursday claims that the North Korean leadership figure expected to visit Russia for WW2 anniversary celebrations in May will be Kim Jong Un.
Citing a Russian government official that spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, the report confirmed previous rumors about Kim’s Moscow appearance.
“The invitation was sent to Kim Jong Un. North Korea accepted the invitation. The leadership of North Korea is expected to take part in Victory Day celebrations in Moscow,” CNN quoted the Russian official as saying.
“By leadership, we’re talking about Kim,” he said, reportedly confirming what would represent the North Korean leaders’ first foreign visit since succeeding his father in 2011.
Speculation about Kim’s attendance at the event has been rife since it was first revealed that the North Korean leadership had been invited to the celebrations by Russia.
There was renewed conjecture this week following comments from Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to Russian media on Tuesday.
“Among those who have confirmed they will attend the coming events are Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the presidents of South Africa, Mongolia and Vietnam, and the leaders of Cuba and North Korea,” Lavrov was quoted by Russia Today as saying.
Lavrov, however did not indicate whether the referred to Kim or another North Korean official such as nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam, whose official title is president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
Although the official quoted by CNN indicated that Kim Jong Un was expected to attend, no public confirmation or announcement has yet come from North Korea itself. The official indicated that Russia is also watching for that announcement to occur as well.
“While the new regime in Pyongyang has been relatively forthcoming, we should not expect an announcement until the top leadership is certain that internal security conditions are guaranteed for a foreign visit,” a source knowledgeable of the North Korean leadership told NK News on condition of anonymity.
“Kim Jong Il’s visits to the People’s Republic of China were generally not reported until after he returned to North Korea. There was a change in 2011 in which his foreign visits were reported as they happened, particularly his own visit to Russia in 2011. It is not clear how state media will report Kim Jong Un’s own external activities.”
The source also said that working level officials, who would be involved in a visit from Kim, have been observed visiting Moscow.
North Korea and Russia have recently experienced a warming of ties and have signed a series of agreements, increasing trade and have designated 2015 as a year of “Friendship” between the two countries.
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