Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to a Russian forum set to be held in September.
According to state-run news agency RIA Novosti, a Russian lawmaker said Putin offered Kim a spot at this year’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
The annual conference, according to the event’s website, focuses on issues surrounding the “world economy, regional integration, and the development of new industrial and technological sectors, as well as of the global challenges facing Russia and other nations.”
A letter from Putin requesting the North Korean leader attend was reportedly delivered last week during Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Pyongyang.
The missive is also said to have expressed “best wishes” for the future of U.S.-North Korean relations ahead of the planned summit on June 12 in Singapore between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Russian state-run media outlet TASS also reported that Lavrov invited Kim to visit Russia in the near future.
Kim showed interest in strengthening relations with Russia in a comment that also protested “U.S. hegemonism.”
“As we move to adjust to the political situation in the face of U.S. hegemonism, I am willing to exchange detailed and in-depth opinions with your leadership and hope to do so moving forward,” Kim said.
The meeting – part of North Korea’s recent diplomatic tour de force – appeared to draw the ire of Trump.
“I did not like the Russian meeting yesterday, as what’s the purpose of this meeting?” Trump said to reporters Friday. “But it could be a positive meeting. If it is a positive meeting, I love it. If it is a negative meeting, I am not happy. And it could be very well a positive meeting.”
“I didn’t like it,” Trump says of Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov meeting with Kim Jong Un in North Korea https://t.co/xwtmcrUmrm
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 1, 2018
Since plans for the Trump-Kim summit were first announced, North Korea has held numerous high-level meetings with South Korea, China and Russia.
Trump also on Friday met with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, to discuss the upcoming summit and receive a letter from the country’s ruler.