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Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
Retraction notice: An article published by NK News Thursday stated Russian Amb. to DPRK Matsegora had said that a visit by Putin to N.Korea was expected in 2020. The report was based on a mistranslation of his remarks, and we have now retracted it. We apologise for the error.
The leaders of Russia and North Korea are set to hold their second summit in 2020, this time with President Vladimir Putin visiting Pyongyang, the Russian ambassador to the DPRK said at an event in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
Speaking at a dinner celebrating the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the DPRK, Ambassador Alexander Matsegora mentioned the planned visit while listing major bilateral events to be held next year.
Matsegora “stressed that a new breakthrough in the further development of relations between the two countries will be made next year,” according to a post Thursday on the Russian embassy’s Facebook.
These include plans to “celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the new interstate treaty and the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang,” the post said.
The third item mentioned was celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the subsequent withdrawal from Korea of the defeated colonial Japanese government.
Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin held their first summit in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok in April this year.
No agreements were signed during that one-day summit, where Putin emphasized support for Kim’s government and urged the international community to address North Korea’s security concerns.
But the two countries have stepped up exchanges in recent years, signing a number of agreements and holding frequent follow-up meetings on various areas of cooperation and a number of joint economic projects.
The two have also experienced friction in recent months, however, with large numbers of arrests of North Korean fishermen said to be illegally poaching in the waters off the Far East, as well as an incident where the DPRK arrested and detained Russian fishermen.
But these incidents do not appear to have caused lasting damage to bilateral relations at large, with the exchange of high-level delegations continuing.
At the end of this month, Russian defense minister Sergey Shoygu is set to visit Pyongyang, Japan’s NHK reported Thursday citing sources, which follows the visit to the North Korean capital of deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin in July.
This week in Pyongyang, a delegation of Russian state-run media executives have been touring Pyongyang, meeting top DPRK officials, and have signed an agreement on deepening cooperation.
The delegation attended the event at the Diplomatic Club in Pyongyang on Wednesday hosted by Ambassador Matsegora as well, the embassy reported.
Also this week, a delegation of the DPRK Ministry of Agriculture is in Pyongyang, RIA Novosti reported Thursday, and is meeting with the head of the bilateral inter-parliamentary group for Russia’s State Duma, Kazbek Taisayev.
The Russian lawmaker reportedly said during a meeting with the visiting North Koreans that he hopes the talks will result in the “creation of a joint venture, or exchanges of specialists who will help in the development of the agro-industrial complex” in both countries.
Another Kim-Putin meeting would be only the second between the two leaders, though Putin met former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il three times between 2000-2002.
It would also be Putin’s second visit to Pyongyang — his first coming during his initial summit with Kim Jong Il in July 2000.
Next year will mark 20 years since that summit, as well as the signing of the treaty Ambassador Matsegora mentioned in his address on Wednesday.
In February 2000, the two sides signed the “DPRK-Russia treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation” in Pyongyang, which a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report from the time called a “fundamental legal document that provides a basis for the overall bilateral relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.”
Edited by James Fretwell
Featured image: The Kremlin