Putin to visit North Korea as Kremlin floats idea of strategic treaty

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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to North Korea on Tuesday (June 18,) in a rare visit that may see Moscow sign a "strategic partnership treaty" with Pyongyang, the Kremlin said.

The historic trip -- which the Kremlin called a "friendly state visit" -- comes as Putin seeks ammunition to continue his military offensive in Ukraine and as the West suspects Pyongyang of sending weapons to Moscow.

"Several documents will be signed," among which will be "important, highly significant documents", Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov was quoted as saying by state-run Russian news agencies.

This may include a "strategic partnership" document that will be an updated version of a 1961 Soviet-era agreement and one signed when Putin last visited the reclusive state in 2000, he said.

The document will be changed to adapt to a "deep evolution of the geopolitical situation in the world and the region", Ushakov said.

Russia is now, along with North Korea, one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world and Moscow has spent months warming its relations with Pyongyang as it faces isolation in the West.

Western countries have accused North Korea of sending weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, which Moscow and Pyongyang have denied. Kyiv has said it has found North Korean shells on the battlefield.

Moscow said Putin will arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday evening, where he will attend a concert in his honour, before signing "important" documents with leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday.

The Kremlin chief will be taking a large delegation including his foreign, defence, health, transport and space ministers, and may speak to the press along with Kim, Ushakov said.

RUSSIA HELPS PYONGYANG WITH TECH

Washington and Seoul say Russia has provided Pyongyang with technical help for its satellite programme and sent aid to the food-strapped state.

The trip comes nine months after Putin hosted Kim on a rare foreign trip to the Russian Far East where the pair lavished each other with praise.

Russia and North Korea, which share a small land border, have historic links since the Soviet Union helped found the tiny state after the Korean War in the 1950s.

Since the fall of the USSR, Russia was one of the few countries to have working relations with Pyongyang.

It will...

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