Putin invites Kim Jong-un to Moscow

December 19, 2014
Vladimir Putin, left, and Kim Jong-un. (Korea Times file)

Vladimir Putin, left, and Kim Jong-un. (Korea Times file)

MOSCOW (Yonhap) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Moscow next year, a news report said Friday, in what would be the first overseas trip by Kim.

“It is true that such an invitation has been sent,” Russian state news agency TASS said, citing Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The invitation is timed for the 70th anniversary of the former Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

Still, it remains unclear whether Kim will visit Moscow for the annual celebration that falls on May 9 as other foreign leaders could attend it.

Kim has never visited a foreign country since he inherited power upon the death of his father and long-time leader Kim Jong-il in 2011.

The report came a month after Kim’s special envoy, Choe Ryong-hae, visited Moscow and met with Putin.

Informed sources said Putin invited Choe to visit Moscow in November. They did not elaborate and asked not to be identified, citing policy.

Choe’s visit came at a time when Pyongyang was struggling to find a diplomatic exit amid growing international pressure over its alleged dismal human rights record.

On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly formally adopted a landmark resolution calling for referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

Still, chances of an actual referral are slim because General Assembly resolutions, unlike U.N. Security Council resolutions, are not legally binding. The Security Council is expected to take up the issue as early as next week, but is unlikely to approve a referral as China and Russia — two veto-wielding powers of the council’s five permanent members — are sure to veto it.