Russian President Vladimir Putin ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at 'early date', says KCNA

In a message to Mr Kim Jong Un on North Korea's National Liberation Day, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his intention for a summit. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "at an early date", the North's state media reported on Wednesday (Aug 15), amid a rapid diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.

Mr Putin invited Mr Kim and the South's President Moon Jae-in in June to an economic forum in Vladivostok next month, although it is not known whether the North Korean leader responded to the invitation.

In a message to Mr Kim on the North's National Liberation Day - marking the end of Japanese rule over Korea at the end of World War II - Mr Putin reiterated his intention for a summit.

"I affirm that I am ready to meet you at an early date to discuss urgent issues of bilateral relations and important matters of the region," Mr Putin said in a message carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The message did not offer a specific date for the meeting.

Mr Putin expressed hopes to further develop "reciprocal cooperation including the realisation of the tripartite project" that would also involve South Korea.

Mr Kim also sent a message to Mr Putin, KCNA reported, noting that the "valuable tradition" of their joint wartime struggle against Japan was the "strong roots" of their bilateral relations.

The message gave no response to Mr Putin's invitation, although KCNA did not make it clear if Mr Kim's message came before or after the letter from Moscow.

The rapid diplomatic thaw on the Korean Peninsula since the Winter Olympics in February has seen Mr Kim meet his South Korean counterpart Mr Moon twice, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Donald Trump.

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