Putin willing to visit North Korea at ‘an early date’

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ANKARA, Jan 21 (AA/APP/DNA): Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to visit Pyongyang at “an early date,” according to North Korea’s state media.

Putin expressed “deep thanks” for an invitation by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Pyongyang during a meeting with the country’s visiting top diplomat, Choe Son Hui, last week, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday, citing a statement released Saturday by the North Korean foreign minister’s assistance office.

Choe paid a three-day visit to Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart.

North Korea “warmly welcomes President Putin to visit Pyongyang and is ready to greet the Korean people’s closest friend with the greatest sincerity,” KCNA said.

If materialized, it will be Putin’s first visit to North Korea since July 2000 when the country was led by Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il.

The visit could come before Russia’s presidential election in March.

The two leaders met last September at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch center in the Russian Far East during Kim’s visit to Russia.