Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in North Korea to a red carpet welcome on Tuesday night at the start of his first visit to the totalitarian state in 24 years.

Mr Putin was met on the tarmac by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and - flanked by a military guard of honour - the pair talked animatedly for several minutes.

The two leaders last met in September at the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia's far east, but this is Mr Putin’s first trip to Pyongyang since 2000.

Ties between the two pariah states have increased in recent years, especially since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

North Korea needs help with space technology after its recent failure to put a second spy satellite into orbit - as well as food, fuel and foreign currency.

Russia faces a continued shortage of weapons in its war in Ukraine.

The United States has said it is concerned about the "deepening relationship between these two countries".

The Kremlin described the trip as a “friendly state visit” with Russian media reporting Mr Putin and Mr Kim may sign a partnership agreement, including on security issues, and will give joint statements to the media.

A parade in Kim Il Sung square is anticipated. Mr Putin is also expected to watch a concert and visit the Orthodox Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Pyongyang, the only orthodox church in North Korea.

Mr Putin arrived in Pyongyang just before 03:00 local time, where was presented with a bouquet of roses

Ahead of his arrival, Mr Putin praised Mr Kim for "firmly supporting" Moscow's war in Ukraine.

In a letter published in North Korean state media, Mr Putin promised to build trade and security systems with Pyongyang "that are not controlled by the West".

The Russian president also vowed support for Pyongyang's efforts to defend its interests despite what he called "US pressure, blackmail and military threats", in the article printed in Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's ruling party mouthpiece.

He said the two countries would continue to “resolutely oppose” what he described as Western ambitions “to hinder the establishment of a multipolarised world order based on mutual respect for justice".

There are reports Mr Putin will stay at the Kumsusan guesthouse in Pyongyang, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping last stayed during his state visit to North Korea in 2019.

Mr Putin's delegation includes his new defence minister, Andrei Belousov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Mr Kim said last week that ties with Russia had "developed into an unbreakable relationship of comrades-in-arms".

During their meeting last year, Mr Putin said he saw "possibilities" for military cooperation with North Korea, while Mr Kim wished Russia's president "victory" in Ukraine.

The White House said the US is concerned about closer ties between Russia and North Korea.

"We're not concerned about the trip" by Mr Putin, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday. "What we are concerned about is the deepening relationship between these two countries."

John Nilsson-Wright, head of the Japan and Koreas programme at Cambridge University's Centre for Geopolitics, said Mr Putin is "strengthening ties with its old Cold War partner" in an effort to "counter any suggestion that the US and its allies have been able to isolate Moscow".

"He is bolstering relations between authoritarian regimes at a time when democratic governments are in a defensive position, confronting global security challenges" in the Middle East, East Asia and Ukraine, he added.

Washington and Seoul have accused Pyongyang of supplying Moscow with artillery and other equipment, most likely in exchange for food and military aid and technology. Both North Korea and Russia deny the existence of an arms deal.

After North Korea, Mr Putin is expected to visit Vietnam, a Communist state and long-time ally, where both countries are expected to discuss issues such as trade.

Mr Putin's last trip to North Korea came in 2000, at the start of his presidential career, when he met Mr Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, who was still supreme leader.

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