Putin says Russia and North Korea will expand bilateral relations – KCNA

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the two countries would “expand comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts,” Pyongyang’s state media said on Monday.

In a letter to Kim on Korea’s Liberation Day, Putin said closer ties would be in the interests of both countries and help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported.

Kim sent a letter to Putin saying that the Russian-North Korean friendship was forged by the victory over Japan, which occupied the Korean Peninsula in World War II.

“Strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity” between the two countries has reached a new level, as are their joint efforts to frustrate threats and provocations by hostile military forces, Kim said in the letter. KCNA did not identify the hostile force, but it is commonly used to refer to the United States and its allies.

Kim predicted that cooperation between Russia and North Korea would increase based on the agreement reached when he meets Putin in 2019.

North Korea in July recognized two Russian-backed “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine as independent states, and officials raised the possibility that North Korean workers could be sent to the area to help with construction and other labor.

Ukraine quickly cut ties with Pyongyang, resisting a Russian offensive described by Moscow as a “special military operation”.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Diane Craft and Lincoln Feist)

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