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Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un discuss security guarantees in first summit

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By Luke Hurst  with Associated Press
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un discuss security guarantees in first summit
Copyright  REUTERS   -  

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will think about working to provide international security guarantees to North Korea following his first meeting with Kim Jong Un.

The Russian president met the North Korean leader for a summit in the eastern city of Vladivostok, where the two were pictured smiling and shaking hands ahead of talks focusing on Pyongyang's nuclear programme, economic sanctions, and North Korean migrants in Russia.

Putin told reporters following the summit Kim wanted de-nuclearisation, but needed security guarantees. The Russian president added it is too early to say how substantial the guarantees would be, and said first steps were needed to increase trust. 

Russia is in favour of complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he said - a view shared by the U.S.

Kim's first trip to Russia comes about two months after his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, in which the two sides failed to resolve a stand-off over North Korea's nuclear programme.

North Korea is seeking an ease on economic sanctions that have been imposed in response to its development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Trump and Kim first met in June 2018 - the first ever meeting between a U.S. president and the leader of North Korea - in an historic summit in which both leaders signaled a desire to improve relations.

A second summit between the two, in Hanoi in February 2019, ended without agreement.

Following the Russia summit, Putin said Kim had asked him to inform the U.S. of his position, and Putin said he will discuss it with U.S. and Chinese colleagues at a meeting in Beijing.

When the two met, Putin said he welcomed Kim's efforts to normalize Pyongyang's relations with the United States.

Kim Jong Un said that his summit with President Vladimir Putin will help jointly assess the Korean peninsula issues and coordinate their stances.

Thursday's summit reflects Russia's effort to position itself as an essential player in the North Korean nuclear standoff.

North Korean expert Andrei Lankov believes denuclearization in North Korea is unlikely.

The professor at Seoul's Kookmin University said North Korean "will never surrender nuclear weapons."

Lankov said the talks will focus on economic cooperation, but the summit will have little or no impact on denuclearization.

He said the discussion will likely include humanitarian assistance and ways to keep North Korean workers, who will be forced to leave by the end of the year due to a UN Security Council resolution, in Russia.

Read more: North Korea sanctions explained

Watch: Kim Jong Un greeted with bread and flowers as he arrives in Russia