May 23, 2019
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All smiles: Putin and Kim display air of friendship during historic summit

By Bernardo Suárez Indart

Vladivostok, Russia, Apr 25 (efe-epa).- Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, exhibited a cordial air on Thursday with smiles and compliments on show during their three-hour summit in the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

It was the first time the two leaders had met face to face.

"North Korea needs guarantees of its security and sovereignty," Putin said.

He called on concerned parties to take the first steps to boost confidence and later think of acts to provide security guarantees for Pyongyang, which he said would support the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"I got the impression that the North Korean leader has this point of view. He only needs security guarantees," he added.

He also said the process would need a "step by step" approach.

"If we act like we are, one step forward and two steps back, we will not achieve the desired result. The most important thing is to restore international law.

"Back to a situation when international law and not just the strongest countries in the world, defined the situation," he continued.

Putin vowed that he would not keep the contents of his talks with Kim confidential from the United States.

"Here there are no secrets," he added.

Kim described the discussions as meaningful and added: "We have just had a very substantive exchange of views tête-à-tête on the issues of mutual interests and pressing issues.

"I would like to thank you for the time I spent with great pleasure."

The good humor and praise contrasted starkly to Kim's last meeting with US president, Donald Trump, in Hanoi in February, which ended without a deal of any sort on the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

It was a relaxed affair at the meeting with Putin and Kim, which took place at the Far Eastern Federal University.

The security apparatus only blocked off the building where the encounter was actually taking place and the rest of the university grounds remained open for students.

Putin arrived at the campus, on Russky Island, just off the coast from Vladivostok, by helicopter instead of by land to avoid disrupting the city with a huge security operation.

The sound of the helicopter's rotor blades alerted the journalists gathered at the scene to the Kremlin chief's arrival.

He only had to make a short trip from the university's helipad to the premises where the summit was held.

Some 20 minutes later, Kim arrived. His journey was even shorter as he had been put up in accommodation on the campus.

Then came the friendly handshake for the cameras on the red carpet before the pair, whose countries share a short, 17-kilometer (11-mile) border, ascended the escalators towards the meeting room.

Putin recalled how Kim's father, late supreme leader Kim Jong-il, whom he had met on three occasions, first signed a bilateral friendship treaty.

Kim, in turn, expressed his contentment for being able to visit Russia, which he described as a friendly and "great" neighbor.

Much of the discussion between the leaders was centered on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Observers both inside and outside Russia kept a close eye on every gesture during the summit for any clue as to how a possible future relationship between Putin and Kim could develop.

Putin summed it up briefly, describing Kim as an "open" and "interesting" interlocutor.

Russia staged a reception of pomp and ceremony for Kim and his large delegations.

Putin invited Kim for a dinner replete with toasts and traditional Russian food that Kim had specifically requested, such as borscht, reindeer dumplings (a Siberian specialty), Pacific crab salad, salmon with dill, beef with eggplant and two different kinds of soup followed by apple ice cream and chocolate cake.

For gifts, Putin gave Kim a Russian saber while the supreme leader handed over a Korean sword.

As things drew to a close, Putin accompanied Kim back to his limousine and both said goodbye warmly. EFE-EPA

bsi-jt/ja

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