Russia’s defense minister has proposed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that their countries hold a naval exercise, along with China, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, citing South Korea’s intelligence agency.
Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as “Victory Day,” in July when he met Kim.
They attended a defense exhibition featuring North Korea’s banned ballistic missiles, North Korean state media reported at the time.
Yonhap reported that Shoigu had made the proposal for a three-way naval exercise to Kim during his visit but it provided no details.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told the National Assembly that Shoigu appeared to have held a private meeting with Kim to agree on broad military expansion, Yonhap reported.
Russia and North Korea have recently called for closer military ties but North Korea has denied having any “arms dealings” with Russia.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a press briefing last month that Shoigu had tried on his visit to North Korea to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.
The United States recently imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia.
North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006 and had been testing various missiles over recent years but it rarely holds military exercises with its neighbors.
The United States and its ally, South Korea, hold regular military exercises, which North Korea denounced as preparations for war against it.