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Thursday, July 13, 2000, updated at 08:58(GMT+8)

President Putin to Visit Pyongyang July 18

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on July 18 for two days.

"Putin was scheduled to stay one day in Pyongyang, but the visit has been extended to two days to discuss in detail issues confronting the Korean Peninsula," said a source from the local diplomatic circle.

Putin is the first high-ranking official to visit Pyongyang after the inter-Korean summit. The source added that the Russian leader will try to solidify weakened Moscow-Pyongyang relations and stress cooperation in South-North-Russian ties.

For the meeting, North Korea insisted that the official visit be extended for as long as possible, while Russia insisted on adding the issue of suspending missile testing to the list of items to be discussed.

Putin announced in an interview in Moscow on July 10, "Russia is ready to help South-North Korean relations."

At an interview with ORT-TV in Moscow, Putin said, "Conditions on the Korean Peninsula directly affect Russia - so peace and friendship in the region is very important."

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on July 18 for two days.

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