Moscow: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has begun his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a couple of hours after Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti said Kim arrived at the cosmodrome in Russia’s eastern Amur region on Wednesday morning, minutes after Putin.
The two men shook hands as they met, according to video from the Kremlin.
Putin told Kim he was “very glad to see” him, while Kim thanked Putin for the invitation to visit Russia, “despite being busy”, Russian state media said.
The Kim-Putin talks are expected to cover potential weapons sales, with the North Korean leader accompanied by top officials from the military and the weapons’ industry.
As Putin showed Kim around the cosmodrome, he told reporters from state media that “all issues” were up for discussion, and that Russia would help North Korea build satellites.
The summit offers a chance for Putin to secure much needed weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine and Kim is expected to press for economic aid and military technology in return.
Not long before the meeting began, South Korea and Japan said they detected the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles from the east coast of North Korea.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launches from an area in or around Sunan, just north of Pyongyang between about 11.43am (02:43 GMT) and 11.53am (02:53 GMT) and that it was analysing the data.
“Our military has strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for further launches, while maintaining full readiness by closely cooperating with the US,” the JCS said in a statement.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that Japan had lodged a protest against North Korea through diplomatic channels in Beijing.
The two missiles fell in the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), he added.
“Fascinating: a launch without Kim Jong (Un) in the country. A first,” US-based security analyst Ankit Panda wrote on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.