Russian Defence Minister arrives in North Korea

Russian Defence Minister in North Korea
Russian Defence Minister in North Korea

MOSCOW: Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, TASS News Agency reported citing Moscow’s defence ministry.

Minister Shoigu with his Russian military delegation is on a three-day visit to North Korea.
“The Russian delegation was ushered in with an official welcoming ceremony at the Sunan international airport (Pyongyang),” it said. “The Russian defence minister was welcomed by North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun-nam.”

The Russian delegation will take part in festivities dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

“This visit will help strengthen Russian-North Korean ties and will be a milestone in the development of cooperation between the two countries,” the ministry added.

Earlier, North Korean state media, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reported that the minister will pay a congratulatory visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Korean people’s victory.

Chinese Communist Party official Li Hongzhong, who is part of the party’s central policymaking committee and holds a leadership position in the top body of its rubber-stamp Parliament, will also lead a delegation to Pyongyang this week, according to KCNA.

Both Russia and China are Pyongyang’s longtime allies. Back in 1950, China helped North Korea by sending a quarter million troops into the Korean Peninsula. More than 180,000 Chinese troops died in the Korean War, or what Beijing calls the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, as per CNN.

The Soviet Union also supported North Korea during the war and over the decades Moscow has been a staunch ally for North Korea, especially as the two share a joint animosity towards the West.

The China and Russian delegations’ visit came at the time amid simmering tensions between North Korea and South Korea and its US ally.

US and South Korea have condemned Pyongyang’s missile test several times, and on several occasions, Washington and Seoul have deployed military assets like nuclear-capable submarines and bombers.

The tensions increased as last week US soldier Pvt Travis King illegally entered the North Korea after crossing its border with the South Korea, where he was assigned to US Forces Korea and had been on the Joint Security Area (JSA) tour as a civilian.

King was facing disciplinary action and was meant to go back to the US. He is believed to be the first US soldier to cross into North Korea since 1982.

On July 17, the United Nations Command (UNC) deputy commander, Gen Andrew Harrison, said a “conversation has commenced” with North Korea over King. But Pyongyang does not seem to be responding to Washington directly, reported CNN. (ANI)