SEOUL: A Russian delegation led by natural resources minister Alexander Kozlov is visiting Pyongyang, North Korean state media said on Wednesday, as the politically isolated state announced new progress in its banned ballistic missile program.
Kozlov arrived on Tuesday, as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with UN member states enforcing the Korean War armistice in Seoul and said they were concerned that China and Russia are helping North Korea expand its military capabilities by enabling Pyongyang to evade UN sanctions.
Russia and North Korea were conducting talks on economy, science and technology, KCNA state media reported, without elaborating.
Kozlov told a reception that Russia wants to develop “substantial cooperation” with North Korea based on the agreements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un when they met in September in Russia’s far east, KCNA reported.
He also thanked North Korea for extending its “full support” to Russia over regional and international issues, the report said.
North Korean state media also reported on Wednesday that the country had successfully conducted static tests of “new-type high-thrust solid-fuel engines” for intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs).
“The test provided a sure guarantee for reliably accelerating the development of the new-type IRBM system,” KCNA said.
North Korea’s General Missile Bureau attached great significance to the new IRBM, saying the recent tests are essential for enhancing the strategic offensive capabilities of the military in light of “the grave and unstable security environment facing the country” and the “vicious” collusion of its enemies, KCNA added.
Washington has accused North Korea of supplying military equipment to Russia for use in its war with Ukraine, and Moscow of providing technical military support to help North Korea.
North Korea and Russia have denied any arms deals, though their leaders pledged closer military cooperation at their September summit.