WASHINGTON - A U.S. official said Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may travel to Russia soon to meet with President Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin tries to acquire military equipment for use in its war in Ukraine.
The official, who was not authorized to address the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. expects Kim will make the trip within the month. The official said the U.S. isn’t sure exactly where or when the meeting would take place, but the Pacific port city of Vladivostok would be a likely possibility given its relative proximity to North Korea.
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson noted Monday that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Pyongyang recently and tried to persuade North Korea to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 25, 2019. (SERGEI ILNITSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Watson said, "We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia."
She added that the U.S. is urging North Korea "to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia."
Shoigu said Monday that the two countries may hold joint war games.
The New York Times first reported that Kim planned to meet with Putin in Russia this month.
The White House said last week that it had intelligence indicating that Putin and Kim swapped letters following Shoigu’s visit. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the letters were "more at the surface level" but that Russian and North Korean talks on a weapons sale were advancing.
AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this story.
An earlier version of this story quoted an NSC spokeswoman saying Russia’s Defense Minister traveled to Pyongyang last month. The visit occurred in July.