North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged his support for Russia's war on Ukraine and expressed confidence in further developing bilateral ties and forming a strategic relationship in his talks with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Tass news agency reported.

During the discussions at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch center in the Russian Far East, Kim was quoted as telling Putin that Moscow is waging "a sacred fight" to ensure its security while combating "hegemonic forces that oppose Russia."

The North Korean leader said the bilateral relationship with Russia is "the main priority for our country at present" and that his talks with Putin will serve as an impetus for transforming the traditional friendly ties into "unbreakable relations of strategic cooperation," according to the report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un examine a rocket assembly hangar during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch center in the Amur region in the Russian Far East on Sept. 13, 2023. (Kremlin Pool Photo/AP/Kyodo)

Both Kim and Putin commented that their meeting was taking place at "a special time." This year marks the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between Russia and North Korea.

The two leaders met for the first time in over four years, with their countries believed to be seeking to expand their military cooperation amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Putin and Kim discussed opportunities for cooperation in space-related pursuits, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Rossiya-1 television, Tass reported.

The provision of North Korean weapons, ammunition and technology to support Moscow's war effort was likely to top the summit's agenda, sources close to Russian authorities said prior to the meeting.

For North Korea's part, Kim wants Russia to provide it with advanced satellite and nuclear-powered submarine technology, The New York Times reported on Sept. 4, citing U.S. and allied officials.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center R) arrives at Khasan station on the Russian side of the border on Sept. 12, 2023. (KCNA/Kyodo)

During his talks with Kim, Putin expressed Russia's pride in developing its space industry, according to Tass, highlighting the significance of their choice to meet at the space launch center.

North Korea failed to put its first military spy satellite into orbit during attempts in May and August.

The Putin-Kim talks, which included a dinner that followed, lasted more than five hours, according to Tass.

The meeting coincided with North Korea's launch of two short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan on the same day. While neither one landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone, Japan lodged a protest in response.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim arrived at Khasan station on the Russian side of the border by special train on Tuesday morning.

At a welcome ceremony held at the station, Kim was quoted by KCNA as saying that the visit, his first overseas trip since the outbreak of the coronavirus, clearly shows North Korea's focus on the "strategic importance" of the relationship with Russia.

Kim was scheduled to visit a factory that manufactures Sukhoi fighters and other aircraft in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Khabarovsk region after the talks with Putin, according to the sources.

The two leaders met last time in Vladivostok in April 2019.

Since the launch of its war on Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow has been sanctioned by the Group of Seven nations and other like-minded countries. The sanctions include bans on cutting-edge technology exports to Russia, and asset freezes on Russian individuals and banks.

Meanwhile, the United States and its East Asian security allies, Japan and South Korea, have been boosting their trilateral defense collaboration in the face of North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Kim last held talks with a foreign leader in June 2019 when he met then-U.S. President Donald Trump in the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom.

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