Seoul, July 11: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might make yet another foreign trip soon. On Monday, July 9, an aircraft presumed to be that of Kim was spotted in Vladivostok in Russia, giving rise to the speculation that preparations were perhaps underway for the leader to visit Russia in some time, South Korean news agency Yonhap said.
If it happens to be true, Russia will be the fourth country that Kim will be visiting in 2018, a year that flagged off his foreign trips with a secret train journey to China in March.
He visited China twice more besides South Korea and Singapore where he met US President Donald Trump last month for talks on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
Kim had also undertaken sightseeing in the city-state on the eve of his meeting with Trump, presumably to witness Singapore's success story.
On April 27, Kim had crossed over onto the South Korean side of the border town of Punmunjeom to meet President Moon Jae-in for a historic Korean summit.
Flightradar24, a flight tracking website from Sweden said the jet which was presumed to be Kim's Chimmae-1, landed at an airport in the East Russian city of Vladivostok earlier on Monday and then left for Pyongyang three hours later, Yonhap informed.
It was though not confirmed if Kim was on board. It was also speculated that the aircraft might have been used for North Korean officials to visit the city and lay the ground for Kim's arrival for a major economic event there scheduled in September.
In May, Kim's flight was seen in Dalian, China
In May, a similar speculation was rife when an Air Koryo plane was seen parked in Chinese coastal city of Dalian and it eventually was seen that Kim had gone there to meet President Xi Jinping in his jet. Neither Vladivostok nor Dalian is much distant from Pyongyang, which suggests that Kim prefers smaller distance to travel in plane.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Kim to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in May though Kim is yet to respond to it, Yonhap added. The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea were also invited to join the forum, it said.
'Reports not true'
However, Vladivostok International Airport authorities denied the reports that Kim's aircraft was there in Monday, reported Russia's TASS news agency.
The airport's press service told TASS that the airport received a weekly passenger flight from Pyongyang, which operates on Mondays and Thursdays.
Neither the North Korean embassy nor the Russian presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed the information of Kim's airplane touching the soil of Vladivostok, TASS added.