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Putin and N. Korea's Kim Exchange Rifles as Gifts During Meeting

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. kremlin.ru

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gifted each other rifles after the two held a high-profile summit in Russia's Far East, the Kremlin said Thursday.

The Russian leader has sought to strengthen alliances with other hardline leaders ostracised by the West, and met with Kim amid speculation they would agree on an arms deal.

Putin gave Kim a Russian-produced rifle “of the highest quality,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. In return, Putin received a North Korean rifle.

He also gave Kim a glove from a space suit, while Putin "gratefully" accepted an invitation to visit North Korea.

Putin said Kim's visit to Russia, which began on Tuesday, would last a few more days.

The friendly ties between the two leaders come as Russia faces isolation from the West and some of its traditional partners over its full-scale war in Ukraine.

U.S. officials and experts have said Russia is interested in buying North Korean ammunition to use in Ukraine, a move the White House warned would have consequences.

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