Senior North Korean official Kim Yong Nam headed to Russia on Tuesday to attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow, North Korean state media reported.
Kim is the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, regularly meeting with foreign visitors to the DPRK and traveling abroad on goodwill missions on behalf of the country’s leadership.
The visit comes as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wrapped up a historic summit in Singapore, though it is unclear if Kim Yong Nam will be briefing Moscow on the talks.
“Recently, Moscow puts quite a lot of emphasis on which countries send delegations during major events, and the World Cup qualifies as one of these,” NK Pro analyst Fyodor Tertitskiy said.
“Kim Yong Nam’s duty is to represent the state abroad, and thus he is perfect for this job.”
Keeping Moscow onside could also explain why Kim will attend the opening ceremony despite the North Korean team not having qualified for the tournament.
Moscow has been largely sidelined amid Pyongyang’s diplomatic outreach campaign this year.
But prior to the DPRK-U.S. summit, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov visited Pyongyang and met with Kim Jong Un.
That visit saw Lavrov invite Kim Jong Un to Moscow, with the two sides also discussing “vital issues of bilateral relations and key international and regional issues,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.
The Russian foreign minister also urged Pyongyang and Washington to approach the summit carefully.
“This will allow for the realization not only of the denuclearization of the whole Korean peninsula but also to provide sustainable peace and stability across north-east Asia,” Lavrov said.
Russia and China aligned diplomatic goals on North Korea in July last year when they signed a joint proposal calling on the DPRK to suspend nuclear and missile testing in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea halting military exercises.
That proposal has now, nominally, been implemented. In a press conference following the summit, President Trump said he would call off the drills while diplomacy with the North was ongoing – a surprise announcement not included in the DPRK-U.S. joint statement.
North Korea also earlier in the year announced a suspension of nuclear and missile testing.
Moscow yesterday “welcomed” the outcomes of Tuesday’s talks.
“In the light of the fact that the implementation of the first and second phase of the Russian-Chinese roadmap is already underway, we urge our partners to start working on the mode of multilateral consultations whose ultimate goal would be to create a solid peace and security mechanism accommodating for the legitimate interests of all the states of Northeast Asia,” a statement by the country’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs read.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: DPRK Today
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Featured Image: Андреевский монастырь (St. Andrew's monastery) by Nickolas Titkov on 2008-09-06 19:21:55