MOSCOW -- Russia's government has invited Kim Jong Un to make an official visit this September in what appears to be a move by President Vladimir Putin to ensure that Moscow is not overshadowed by the North Korean leader's upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hand-delivered a letter from Putin proposing that Kim attend the Eastern Economic Forum from Sept. 11 to Sept. 13, Russian media report, citing Ivan Melnikov, first vice chairman of the State Duma, the Russian legislature's lower house.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to attend the forum, an annual event bringing together political and business leaders in the Russian Far East port city of Vladivostok. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also considering attending.
The invitation came just days after Trump announced that the June 12 Singapore summit with Kim is back on. The Putin administration, wary of letting America lead any breakthrough on North Korean denuclearization, has requested discussing the issue under the six-party framework involving Russia as well as the U.S., Japan, the two Koreas and China.
By bringing together the four East Asian leaders in the same place, Putin likely aims to gain a measure of diplomatic leverage against the U.S.
Melnikov also revealed that North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, will attend the World Cup opening ceremony in Russia on June 14.
On Sept. 9, shortly before the Eastern Economic Forum kicks off, Russia's Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko will visit North Korea. Representatives from the State Duma will visit the country in October.
Russia has been working to hold a bilateral summit with North Korea. Putin will meet with Xi and Moon by mid-June.