North Korean leader ends Russia trip with ‘heartfelt thanks’ to Putin

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to President Vladimir Putin, state media said Monday, as he headed home after nearly a week in Russia on a defence-focused trip.Earlier Sunday, Kim watched a performing walrus at the Primorsky Aquarium, Russia’s largest, accompanied by his officials, many wearing military uniforms.

State media images showed Kim smiling broadly as he applauded the walrus and its handler.

Kim also “watched white dolphins and other sea animals performing acrobatic feats at the dolphinarium and looked round various places of the aquarium,” KCNA said.

The North Korean leader also praised the facility for “winning a reputation as a popular scientific research base” under Putin’s leadership, it added.

Kim’s latest visit to Russia will “shine long in history”, KCNA said, and will further consolidate the two countries’ “militant unity” while “opening up a new chapter” of their relations.

While meeting Kim, Putin accepted an invitation to visit North Korea and offered to send one of its nationals to space, which would be a first.

Kim is heading back to North Korea by bulletproof train, with KCNA saying the leader “starts his way home after bringing about a new radical turn in the history of the development of the DPRK-Russia relations.”

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name.

Before departing from Vladivostok, the Pacific port city just over the border, Kim was presented with five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest as gifts from the governor of the Primorye region, which borders China and North Korea.