North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (front left) receives a farewell ceremony at the end of his visit to Russia. AFP
North Korea's Kim Jong Un expressed his "heartfelt thanks" to President Vladimir Putin, state media said Monday, as he headed home after nearly a week in Russia on a defence-focused trip.
Kim's tour of Russia's far east, which began Tuesday, has fanned Western fears that isolated, nuclear-armed Pyongyang could provide Moscow with weapons for its war in Ukraine.
During the trip, North Korea's leader inspected everything from Russian space rockets to submarines. It also included a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin.
Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency on Monday said Kim "extended his heartfelt thanks to President Putin and the Russian leadership" for "their special care and cordial hospitality" as he wrapped up the visit.
Kim is heading home "after successfully completing the schedule of his official goodwill visit to the Russian Federation," KCNA said.
He also wished "Russia prosperity and its people well-being", the KCNA report added.
North Korea and Russia, historic allies, are both under rafts of global sanctions — Moscow for its Ukraine invasion, Pyongyang for its nuclear weapon tests.
During his visit, Kim said his country would make bilateral ties with Russia its "number one priority", as he held a rare summit with Putin.
China is currently North Korea's most crucial ally and benefactor.
Russia is eager for North Korea's stockpile of artillery shells to be used in Ukraine, while Pyongyang is looking for help with satellite technology and upgrading its Soviet-era military equipment, experts say.
On Wednesday, Putin and Kim held talks at Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome, roughly 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) from Moscow.
After the meeting Putin talked up the prospect of greater cooperation with North Korea and the "possibilities" for military ties.
But the Kremlin has said no agreement has or will be signed.
The meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin assumes a unique significance due to the timing. Kim Jong Un travelled in a train to Russia and met Putin in eastern Russia. The North Korean leader just crossed the border. He did not travel to Moscow in European
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will “soon” visit Russia for his first summit with President Vladimir Putin, state media reported on Tuesday, confirming a Kremlin announcement.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into Russia on Wednesday for a first summit with Vladimir Putin, as Pyongyang seeks closer ties with its traditional ally amid a nuclear deadlock with the United States.
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