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Naval exercises

Russia proposes joint navy exercise with North Korea, China

Russia proposes joint navy exercise with North Korea, China
An undated photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 21 August 2023 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) inspecting a flotilla of the East Sea Fleet of the Navy of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in North Korea. EPA-EFE/KCNA

SEOUL, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Russia's defence minister has proposed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that their countries hold a naval exercise, along with China, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, citing South Korea's intelligence agency.

Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as “Victory Day”, in July when he met Kim.

They attended a defence exhibition featuring North Korea’s banned ballistic missiles, North Korean state media reported at the time.

Yonhap reported that Shoigu had made the proposal for a three-way naval exercise to Kim during his visit but it provided no details.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told the National Assembly that Shoigu appeared to have held a private meeting with Kim to agree on broad military expansion, Yonhap reported.

On Saturday, Russia’s ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told news agency Tass that he was not aware of any plans for North Korea to participate in trilateral military drills with China and Russia but that in his opinion it would be “appropriate” in light of U.S.-led exercises in the region.

Russia and North Korea have recently called for closer military ties but North Korea has denied having any “arms dealings” with Russia.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing last month that Shoigu had tried on his visit to North Korea to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.

The United States recently imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia.

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006 and had been testing various missiles over recent years but it rarely holds military exercises with its neighbours.

The United States and its ally, South Korea, hold regular military exercises, which North Korea denounces as preparations for war against it.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Robert Birsel and Tomasz Janowski)

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