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North Korean public security officials to visit Russia as ties grow

North Korean public security officials to visit Russia as ties grow
The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 9, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters file

SEOUL —?A group of North Korean officials in charge of public security was set to visit Russia, state news agency KCNA said on Tuesday (June 11), amid signs of growing diplomatic and security exchanges between the neighbours.

The delegation, led by North Korean Public Security Vice Minister Ri Song-chol, left for Russia by air on Monday, KCNA said, without elaborating.

Pyongyang and Moscow have been increasingly expanding diplomatic and security ties, hosting each other's government, parliamentary and other delegations in recent months.

Officials in Washington and Seoul have accused North Korea of shipping weapons to Russia to support the war against Ukraine in exchange for technological aid with its own nuclear and missile programmes.

On Monday, Russia's Vedomosti newspaper said President Vladimir Putin would visit North Korea and Vietnam in the coming weeks. An official in Vietnam told Reuters the Vietnam trip was planned for June 19 and 20, but has not yet been confirmed.

The Kremlin has said Russia wants to build a partnership with North Korea "in all areas" but has not confirmed the date of the visit.

Asked about the news on Tuesday, South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Lim Soo-suk said Seoul was maintaining close communication with Moscow and monitoring developments, but declined to give details.

"Our government's position is that any exchanges and co-operation between Russia and North Korea must be conducted in a way that contributes to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula while complying with relevant Security Council resolutions," Lim told a press briefing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un travelled to Russia's Far East last September, touring the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch centre where Putin promised to help him build satellites.

ALSO READ:?Seoul activists develop 'smart balloons' to send messages deep into North Korea

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