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Putin: Russia, North Korea will support each other if attacked, strengthening ties

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Putin: Russia, North Korea will support each other if attacked, strengthening ties

Vladimir Putin said Russia and North Korea have ramped up ties to a “new level,” pledging to help each other if either nation is attacked in a “breakthrough” new partnership announced during the Russian president’s rare visit to the reclusive state.

Thousands of North Koreans chanting “welcome Putin” lined the city’s wide boulevards brandishing Russian and North Korean flags and bouquets of flowers, as Putin kicked off his first visit to North Korea in 24 years with a finely choreographed display of influence in the dictatorship.

The pair then signed the new strategic partnership to replace previous deals signed in 1961, 2000 and 2001, according to Russian state news agency TASS. “The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today includes, among other things, the provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement,” Putin said after the meeting.

He said the deal encompasses the “political, trade, investment, cultural spheres, and the security sphere as well,” calling the pact “truly a breakthrough document.”

Putin said joint drills involving the United States, South Korea and Japan were “hostile” toward North Korea,” characterizing the US policy as “confrontational.” Kim, meanwhile, called the new “alliance” a “watershed moment in the development of the bilateral relations.”

But the deal between the two autocrats raised many questions, too – including whether Russia’s nuclear deterrent now extends to North Korea, and vice versa, or whether the two nations will now hold joint military drills.

Putin was met with exuberant celebrations at a welcome ceremony with his counterpart at Kim Il Sung Square in the heart of the North Korean capital, where mounted soldiers, military personnel and children holding balloons cheered against the backdrop of large portraits of the each leader.

The two leaders presented their respective officials and stood together as the Russian national anthem played before riding off standing shoulder to shoulder in an open-top limousine as they smiled and waved to the crowds. The scenes of pomp and fanfare were a constant throughout the day, which closed with Kim escorting Putin to his plane late in the evening ahead of his trip to Vietnam.

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