HomeTop StoriesKim Jong-un of North Korea has a photo session, but it is...

Kim Jong-un of North Korea has a photo session, but it is quiet due to talks about a visit to Russia

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended a photo session with participants celebrating the 75th anniversary of the country’s founding, but stayed away from other events amid reports he would soon leave for a trip to Russia.

Saturday’s celebrations were filled with the dedication of flower baskets to former leaders, banquets, concerts for a visiting Chinese delegation and a performance by the Russian Army’s song and dance ensemble, KCNA news agency reported Sunday.

KCNA made no mention of Kim, other than to say he attended a photo session in the courtyard of the mausoleum where the bodies of his father and grandfather lie, praising the people “who put state affairs above their family affairs in good or bad days.”

“The patriots are the best assets representing the country’s power… while the Workers’ Party of Korea is ushering in the era of great transformation unprecedented in the country’s history by relying on such people,” he said.

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Kim was expected to travel to the Russian far eastern city of Vladivostok to meet President Vladimir Putin to discuss arms transfers and other military cooperation, likely on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum that opens on Sunday.

North Korean state media has remained silent on the trip, as first reported by the New York Times citing US officials, which South Korean intelligence said was possible. The Kremlin said it had “nothing to say” on the issue.

If he makes the trip, likely on his armored train, it would be only Kim’s second visit to Russia as he looks to forge deeper ties with an increasingly isolated Moscow, while Pyongyang stands to reap clear benefits from Putin’s need for friends .

North Korea and Russia have denied they were engaged in arms negotiations, but the United States said last week that such talks were actively progressing and warned it would be a mistake for Kim to supply weapons for Putin to use in Ukraine.

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North Korea, in turn, may seek to fill military resource gaps, such as in developing nuclear weapons that could be delivered by ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines, analysts said.

North Korea last week launched to great fanfare and attended by Kim what it called its first “tactical nuclear attack submarine,” a ship that resembled a modified Soviet-era submarine with ten launch tube hatches.

The South Korean military said the submarine did not appear ready for normal operations, and that there were signs North Korea was trying to fabricate or exaggerate its capabilities.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Michael Perry)

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