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North Korea's Kim Meets Russian Defense Minister 

This handout picture taken July 26, 2023, and released by the Russian Defense Ministry shows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu meeting his North Korean counterpart, Kang Sun Nam, in Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday. Shoigu was on a rare visit to the isolated country during which both sides pledged to boost ties, state media KCNA reported.

Shoigu handed Kim a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the report said. Kim in turn thanked Putin for sending a military delegation led by Shoigu, adding the meeting deepened the "strategic and traditional DPRK [North Korea]-Russia relations."

The Russian delegation and a Chinese delegation including Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong arrived in North Korea this week for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as "Victory Day."

The groups are the first such prominent public visitors to North Korea since the start of the pandemic.

Shoigu praised the North Korean military as the "most powerful" in the world during a banquet in Pyongyang, news agency Yonhap reported, citing the Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

Shoigu made the remarks while meeting his North Korean counterpart, Kang Sun Nam, the report said.