Details of the trip are still being discussed and a specific date has not been set, presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un © Vladimir Smirnov; RIA Novosti

The Kremlin is still in the process of ironing out the details of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming trip to North Korea, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday. He said that the exact dates of the visit are yet to be determined.

The Russian leader was formally invited to visit North Korea back in January of this year when Pyongyang called Putin “the closest friend of the Korean people” and said it would warmly welcome him with “all its heart.”

“As you well know, President Putin has an active invitation to visit North Korea with an official trip,” Peskov told reporters. “This visit is being prepared. We will announce the dates of such a trip in a timely manner,” the spokesman added.

The last time Putin traveled to North Korea was in 2000 when he visited Pyongyang to meet with the country’s then leader Kim Jong-il – the father of current leader Kim Jong-un. Russia and North Korea have since maintained friendly ties.

Bilateral relations between Moscow and Pyongyang experienced a further boost following the start of the Ukraine conflict and the West’s sanctions campaign against Russia.

Russia ties emboldening North Korea – Pentagon Russia ties emboldening North Korea – Pentagon

In September of last year, Kim Jong-un made a visit to the Russian Far East where he had a face-to-face meeting with Putin, who gave him a tour of the Vostochny cosmodrome and showcased two Russian made Aurus limousines.

Several months later, in February, Russia gifted the North Korean leader one of the luxury cars. Pyongyang called the gesture “a clear demonstration of the special personal relationship” between Putin and Kim.

The move sparked protest from the US, which called the gifting of the vehicle “illegal” and a violation of UN sanctions on North Korea. Senior US officials have also voiced concern about the growing ties between Moscow and Pyongyang.

In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jung Pak, who serves as the department’s senior official for North Korea, stated that Washington is concerned that increasing cooperation with Moscow could “make Kim think that his leash is longer than it really is” and affect his “risk calculus,” particularly when it comes to dealing with his southern neighbor, exporting weapons, and adhering to denuclearization commitments. (RT)