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Putin gives North Korea's Kim Jong Un a Russian limo as a gift

Published 19/02/2024, 22:23
Updated 20/02/2024, 18:50
© Reuters. Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend a meeting at the Vostochny Сosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, September 13, 2023. Sputnik/Artem Geodakyan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

By Guy Faulconbridge and Jack Kim

MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) -Vladimir Putin gave Kim Jong Un a luxury Russian Aurus limousine as a gift because the North Korean leader liked the car when the Russian president showed it to him last year, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

When Kim visited eastern Russia in September, Putin showed Kim one of the black armoured limousines that he uses. Kim sat beside Putin in the car at the Vostochny Cosmodrome and appeared to enjoy it.

"When the head of the DPRK (North Korea) was at the Vostochny cosmodrome, he looked at this car, Putin showed it to him personally, and like many people, Kim liked this car," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about the gift.

"So this decision was made," Peskov said. "North Korea is our neighbour, our close neighbour, and we intend, and will continue, to develop our relations with all neighbours, including North Korea."

Russia has stepped up ties with North Korea and other countries hostile to the United States such as Iran since the start of the war with Ukraine.

The United States has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with artillery shells and missiles used in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang deny the accusations and vowed last year to deepen military relations.

South Korea's foreign ministry said in response to the presentation of the car that it was closely monitoring cooperation between Russia and North Korea and urging both countries to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed any notion that Moscow had violated sanctions.

"I think champions of international legal purity should be asked what damage is caused by illegal sanctions when, because of the West's sanctions war, people the world over cannot secure food, medicines and vaccines," she wrote on Telegram.

'SPECIAL PERSONAL RELATIONS'

The Russian-made limousine was delivered to Kim's top aides by the Russian side on Feb. 18, North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.

Kim's sister "courteously conveyed Kim Jong Un's thanks to Putin to the Russian side, saying that the gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders," KCNA reported.

According to the carmaker's website, the car is Russia's first full-size luxury sedan. It is also Putin's presidential car.

When Kim visited the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Kim himself drove to the site in a Maybach limousine brought onboard a special train he travelled in from Pyongyang.

Kim is believed to be an avid automobile enthusiast and has a large collection of luxury foreign vehicles, which are likely smuggled in.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Aurus limousine of Russian President Vladimir Putin's motorcade is parked outside the Great Hall of the People during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, October 18, 2023. Sputnik/Dmitry Azarov/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The Maybach and others he has been seen in including several Mercedes limousines, a Rolls-Royce (LON:RR) Phantom and a Lexus sports utility vehicle fall under luxury goods that U.N. Security Council resolutions ban from export to North Korea.

KCNA reported separately on Tuesday that a delegation of North Korea ruling party officials had returned from Russia and three delegations, representing information technology, fisheries and sports, departed for Russia.

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