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North Korean Leader Expected to Visit Russia in May

  • VOA News

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Un looks set to travel to Russia in May for his first foreign visit since succeeding his late father in office in 2011.

The South Korean news service Yonhap confirmed Wednesday Kim is among the North Korean delegation accepting an invitation to ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany in World War II.

Yonhap quoted the Russian government as saying "about 20 state leaders have confirmed their attendance, and the North Korean leader is among them."

If Kim does attend, it will be his first foreign visit since taking office. But Pyongyang could instead send Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state.

China was also a likely candidate for Kim Jong Un's first official foreign visit, but relations with North Korea's strongest ally have grown more tense since he took over from his father Kim Jong Il.

Both China and Russia have signed United Nations agreements punishing North Korea for continuing its nuclear arms development, but China has taken the stronger stance.

Sanctions drafted jointly by the United States and China were approved by the Security Council in March 2013. Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council.