Putin and Kim take each other for a spin in Aurus limousine

The drive took place after the two leaders signed a deal that included a mutual defence pledge, one of Russia’s most significant moves in the Asia Pacific in years.

Kim Jong Un grinning as he sits in the passenger seat while Vladimir Putin drives the Aurus
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un goes for a ride with Vladimir Putin [KCNA via Reuters]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un went for a spin in an Aurus limousine on Wednesday, taking turns at the wheel of the Russian-built car.

The carefully staged public relations exercise was an opportunity to show their close working relationship and their ease in each other’s company as Putin made his first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years.

The drive took place after the two leaders signed a deal that included a mutual defence pledge, one of Russia’s most significant moves in the Asia Pacific in years and that Kim said amounted to an “alliance”.

Video released by Russian state television showed Putin jumping behind the wheel of the Aurus, the model of his official presidential car back home in Russia. Kim was seen grinning in the passenger seat while they drove around a park with the two men then swapping seats.

One of Putin’s aides said earlier on Wednesday that the Russian leader had presented Kim with an Aurus as a gift.

It would be his second Russia-made limousine.

North Korea’s state media reported in March that Kim had taken his first ride in an Aurus after Putin gave him one of the cars in February.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said it had assessed that the gift of the Aurus was a violation of United Nations sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

Kim is thought to have a large collection of luxury cars including models by Maybach, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls Royce that have been smuggled into the country in breach of the sanctions.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters