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North Korea's Kim Jong Un Picks Russia for First Foreign Trip as Leader

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SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has confirmed he will attend celebrations in Russia in May marking the Soviet victory over Germany in World War II, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday. The trip would be Kim's first foreign visit since taking power in the reclusive state in 2011, succeeding his father Kim Jong Il, and is likely to come before he visits China, the North's main ally.

"About 20 state leaders have confirmed their attendance, and the North Korean leader is among them," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the office of Kremlin spokesman as saying. Russia marks the victory anniversary every year on May 9. Kim's father was invited to the 60th anniversary celebrations in 2005 but did not attend, according to Yonhap.

North Korea and Russia have been looking to boost ties. The North's relations with China, on the other hand, have cooled since Kim took over and then, in 2013, defied international warnings and U.N. sanctions to conduct a third nuclear test. Russia, however, has pushed ahead with plans for natural gas and transport projects with the North.

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— Reuters

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