US calls deepening North Korea-Russia ties trend of 'great concern' ahead of Putin's Pyongyang visit

Washington, June 17 (IANS): A US State Department spokesperson on Monday described deepening military cooperation between North Korea and Russia as a trend of "great concern" after North Korea said Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Pyongyang this week.

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency announced Putin's plan to pay a state visit to Pyongyang from Tuesday to Wednesday amid concerns that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will seek to cement the bilateral military partnership with security implications on the Korean Peninsula and beyond, reports Yonhap news agency.

"We are aware of reports that President Putin will visit Pyongyang soon," the spokesperson said in response to a question from Yonhap news agency.

"Deepening military cooperation between Russia and North Korea is a trend that should be of great concern to anyone interested in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, upholding the global non-proliferation regime, and supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence against Russia's brutal invasion," the official added.

Putin's visit to North Korea would mark his first trip in 24 years. He last visited the reclusive country in July 2000, when Kim Jong-un's late father, Kim Jong-il, was in power.

Seoul, Washington and other countries have carefully watched developments in bilateral military ties between Pyongyang and Moscow due to their broad security implications.

Washington has revealed that Pyongyang has shipped more than 10,000 containers of munitions or munition-related materials to Russia since September, in addition to its missile shipments.

In return, North Korea has been seeking assistance from Moscow, including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armoured vehicles and ballistic missile production equipment, according to US officials.


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Title: US calls deepening North Korea-Russia ties trend of 'great concern' ahead of Putin's Pyongyang visit

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