North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit to Russia has become particularly important following the failure of the US-North Korean summit in Hanoi late last month, a Russian expert familiar with details of diplomatic contacts between Moscow and Pyongyang said on Thursday, TASS reported.
"Generally speaking, [Kim Jong Un’s] visit is now more important than before due to the failure of the Hanoi summit and of Russia’s increasing role as a peacemaker for all sides and an advisor on ways to overcome the current impasse," said Georgy Toloraya, who heads the East Asia center at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The expert said he currently had no information about discussions between Russian and North Korean diplomats on preparing the visit.
"North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Im Chon Il was here recently, but mostly as part of events to mark the 70th anniversary of signing an agreement on economic and cultural cooperation," he went on. "It was a routine meeting and consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers with the signing of a relevant plan."
"However, he clearly had no mandate to discuss practical details of a visit, although the general possibility of it was probably mentioned. But I don’t think that this event was specifically aimed at preparing the visit," Toloraya added.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency earlier reported that a senior North Korean official had visited Moscow. Moreover, South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo newspaper also wrote that Kim Jong-un plans to visit Russia to gain Moscow’s support following the failed summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi on February 27-28. According to the newspaper, the intensified contacts between North Korea and Russia could be a sign of it, with at least three visits to Moscow by North Korea’s senior diplomats this month.