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article imageWhich North Korean leader is visiting Moscow?

By Karen Graham     Jan 28, 2015 in World
Moscow - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accepted an invitation from Moscow to visit Russia in May for the celebration of the Soviet victory over Germany in WWII. This will be Kim Jong Un's first visit outside his country.
If Kim Jong Un makes the trip in May, it will be the first time he has visited outside his country since he took power in 2011, succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il. This will also be his first time meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in person.
The BBC is reporting that presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the North Korean leader's presence has been confirmed, although he did not mention Kim Jong Un by name, and Russia is preparing to meet him. Peskov also reported through Interfax that a number of other foreign leaders had confirmed their invitations.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that invitations to the May celebration commemorating the Soviet victory over Germany in World War II had been sent to various heads of state, including the European Union and The United States. To date, around 20 heads-of-state have confirmed their invitations, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The fact that Kim Jong Un was not mentioned by name when Peskov confirmed the North Korean leader was coming for a visit in May has raised questions in some circles. The BBC cites the South Korea's Unification Ministry as saying the reference to a North Korean leader is ambiguous because Kim Yong-nam is the nominal head of state.
The story of the North Korean leader's visit to Moscow is the lead story in the Yonhap News today. The news agency is saying a written reply to Yonhap News Agency's inquiry about the visit did not mention Kim's name. The reply said: "The list of attendees has not been finalized yet, as we continue a process of confirming the attendance of those invited."
Kim Yong-nam's official title is president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. He is the one that almost always represents North Korea at overseas events. It will be interesting to see who actually goes to the May celebration. If indeed Kim does visit Moscow, it could be seen as North Korea distancing itself from China.
Over the past several years, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. have been pressuring China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang over their nuclear program. China has occasionally publically disapproved of North Korea's missile tests, and in 2013, backed a UN resolution strengthening sanctions on North Korea because of missile and nuclear testing.
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