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White House fetes Kenya with state dinner featuring sunset views, celebrity star power

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White House fetes Kenya with state dinner featuring sunset views, celebrity star power
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White House fetes Kenya with state dinner featuring sunset views, celebrity star power

2024-05-24 10:54 Last Updated At:11:01

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thursday's White House state dinner honoring Kenyan President William Ruto offered around 500 guests stunning D.C. views, a knockout menu, a dose of celebrity star power and even a little family drama.

"I'm looking forward to having all the conversations,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar declared as she arrived, no doubt speaking for many a guest at one of the largest-ever White House state dinners.

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Former President Bill Clinton toasts during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thursday's White House state dinner honoring Kenyan President William Ruto offered around 500 guests stunning D.C. views, a knockout menu, a dose of celebrity star power and even a little family drama.

County music performer Brad Paisley sings during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

County music performer Brad Paisley sings during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kenya's President William Ruto exchanges a toast with President Joe Biden during a State Dinner at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kenya's President William Ruto exchanges a toast with President Joe Biden during a State Dinner at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Roger and Jane Goodell arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Roger and Jane Goodell arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rev. Al Sharpton and Aisha McShaw arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rev. Al Sharpton and Aisha McShaw arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Kenya's President William Ruto speaks before offering a toast during a State Dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kenya's President William Ruto speaks before offering a toast during a State Dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LeVar Burton and Stephanie Cozart Burton arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

LeVar Burton and Stephanie Cozart Burton arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Brad and Kimberly Williams Paisley arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Brad and Kimberly Williams Paisley arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Kate Gallego, Mayor of Phoenix and Mark Weinberg arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Kate Gallego, Mayor of Phoenix and Mark Weinberg arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sean Penn and Ann Lee arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sean Penn and Ann Lee arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Don McLean and Paris Dunn arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Don McLean and Paris Dunn arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Jill Biden, right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto visit the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Jill Biden, right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto visit the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

FILE - White House executive chef Cris Comerford, left, and White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison, right, hold dishes during a media preview for the State Dinner with President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - White House executive chef Cris Comerford, left, and White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison, right, hold dishes during a media preview for the State Dinner with President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison holds a dessert of a white chocolate basket with banana ganache, raspberries, peaches, and candied lime zest, during a preview of the State Dinner with Kenya, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison holds a dessert of a white chocolate basket with banana ganache, raspberries, peaches, and candied lime zest, during a preview of the State Dinner with Kenya, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto walk along the Colonnade around the Rose Garden on their way to the Oval Office for a meeting after a State Arrival Ceremony at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto walk along the Colonnade around the Rose Garden on their way to the Oval Office for a meeting after a State Arrival Ceremony at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

First lady Jill Biden, from right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto speak to students at a cybersecurity class at the Advanced Technical Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Jill Biden, from right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto speak to students at a cybersecurity class at the Advanced Technical Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto talk following a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto talk following a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A place setting is seen atop a sequined tablecloth during a media preview, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, ahead of Thursday evening's State Dinner with Kenya's President William Ruto, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A place setting is seen atop a sequined tablecloth during a media preview, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, ahead of Thursday evening's State Dinner with Kenya's President William Ruto, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Country singer Brad Paisley showed up in his signature cowboy hat, and was wearing dual hats as both dinner guest and featured entertainer. He joked that a pavilion largely made of glass that was erected on the South Lawn for the dinner was the world's fanciest greenhouse, then led off his set with his hits “American Saturday Night” and “This is Country Music."

Singer-songwriter Don McLean attended the festivities, as did Barbara Kingsolver, author of “The Poisonwood Bible,” set in Africa. Asked what about the continent inspired her, Kingsolver replied, “Everything.”

Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms brought her 16-year-old son — but she confessed to reporters that he didn’t want to hold her hand. Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker brought his mom, pronouncing her “the greatest woman in the world.”

The dinner entertainment mixed Paisley's country music and the gospel choir of Howard University. It was designed with the tastes of Ruto and his wife, Rachel, in mind, with first lady Jill Biden noting the Rutos’ “love of gospel and country music.” The Kenyan president is a former evangelist and often leads praise and worship songs when he speaks in churches in his country.

The menu featured fruitwood-smoked beef short ribs, poached lobster, chilled heirloom tomato soup and a white chocolate basket.

Guests made their red carpet arrival in an entryway adorned with red roses and hot pink orchids while Toto’s hit “Africa” played on violin. The extra-long guest list did require cutting some corners: The typical presidential receiving line was nixed because it would have taken too long to get everyone through.

Actor LeVar Burton of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Reading Rainbow” fame joked that his word of the day for the modern political climate was “fraught,” but clarified that he meant it was fraught “with possibilities.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was there, as was his NBA counterpart, Adam Silver, who declared, “We need another basketball court at the White House.”

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, were on hand, as was another ex-president — Barack Obama — who popped by briefly early in the evening but didn't stick around. During his toast to Ruto, President Joe Biden joked that attendees included “many members of the African diaspora, one who just left, Barack."

Hillary Clinton pronounced it “wonderful to be back." Her husband told reporters he particularly liked ”the girl behind you," pointing to a portrait on the wall of his wife from her first lady days.

The gathering was the first White House state dinner for an African nation since 2008, and it was the sixth and largest of the state dinners thrown by Biden.

The event was part of the administration’s efforts to build ties with Africa. Biden failed to keep a promise to visit the continent last year, but this week he said he plans to visit “in February, after I’m reelected” — a show of optimism about his prospects in November’s election.

Ruto is on a three-day state visit that coincides with his East African nation prepares to deploy forces to Haiti, part of a U.N.-led effort to try to calm a spiraling security crisis there.

Biden said the U.S. and Kenya “share a strong respect for the history that connects us together.”

In his toast, Ruto said, “We proudly take a firm stance, shoulder to shoulder, for democracy in a world where troubles have shaken the faith of men."

Other actors on-hand were Wilmer Valderrama, Sean Penn and Michaela Coel. But even celebrities felt a wow factor. Coel, wearing a red and gold dress borrowed from a Sudanese friend, said it was "my first time in Washington — the closest I’ve had to this is ‘Hamilton,’ the musical.”

NBC news anchor Lester Holt said it was his second state dinner, joking, “I don’t get out much.”

Other attendees included former “Top Chef” contestant Kwame Onwuachi and top Democratic donor Mark Gallogly. Sheryl Sandberg, who helped to transform Facebook from a tech startup into a digital advertising empire, philanthropist Melinda Gates and Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who is scheduled to stand trial next month on gun charges in Delaware and on federal tax charges in September, were also there.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a longtime, leading Democratic voice and former presidential candidate himself, was asked while arriving about Biden’s chances against his predecessor and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. He responded that “democracy is going to win in ’24” while adding that Africa has not been properly recognized on the world stage — which he said made Thursday night’s dinner especially important.

The decor featured fuchsia and purple African orchids and American roses. That's a pairing that symbolizes enduring U.S.-Kenyan friendship, Jill Biden said, while recalling her own visit to Kenya as part of a five-day, two-country 2023 African tour.

Guests dined in the sprawling, transparent pavilion meant to afford sweeping views of the sun setting over the Washington Monument and, later, stars overhead. More than 1,000 candles were placed along the pavilion walls, while a suspended centerpiece with 15,000 layered reflective metallic strips was there to amplify the candlelight.

Kenya last had a White House state dinner in 2003. No African nation has had one since President George W. Bush honored Ghana's President John Kufuor five years after that.

The Bidens previously hosted post-pandemic state dinners for France, South Korea and India — which featured the Biden administration's previous attendance high of nearly 400 guests — as well as for Australia in October and Japan last month.

—-

Associated Press writer Evelyne Musambi contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya.

Former President Bill Clinton toasts during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former President Bill Clinton toasts during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

County music performer Brad Paisley sings during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

County music performer Brad Paisley sings during the State Dinner with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kenya's President William Ruto exchanges a toast with President Joe Biden during a State Dinner at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kenya's President William Ruto exchanges a toast with President Joe Biden during a State Dinner at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Roger and Jane Goodell arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Roger and Jane Goodell arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rev. Al Sharpton and Aisha McShaw arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rev. Al Sharpton and Aisha McShaw arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Kenya's President William Ruto speaks before offering a toast during a State Dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kenya's President William Ruto speaks before offering a toast during a State Dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LeVar Burton and Stephanie Cozart Burton arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

LeVar Burton and Stephanie Cozart Burton arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Brad and Kimberly Williams Paisley arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Brad and Kimberly Williams Paisley arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Kenya's President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House in Washington for a State Dinner, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Kate Gallego, Mayor of Phoenix and Mark Weinberg arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Kate Gallego, Mayor of Phoenix and Mark Weinberg arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sean Penn and Ann Lee arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sean Penn and Ann Lee arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Don McLean and Paris Dunn arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Don McLean and Paris Dunn arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Kenya's President William Ruto and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Jill Biden, right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto visit the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Jill Biden, right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto visit the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

FILE - White House executive chef Cris Comerford, left, and White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison, right, hold dishes during a media preview for the State Dinner with President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - White House executive chef Cris Comerford, left, and White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison, right, hold dishes during a media preview for the State Dinner with President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison holds a dessert of a white chocolate basket with banana ganache, raspberries, peaches, and candied lime zest, during a preview of the State Dinner with Kenya, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison holds a dessert of a white chocolate basket with banana ganache, raspberries, peaches, and candied lime zest, during a preview of the State Dinner with Kenya, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto walk along the Colonnade around the Rose Garden on their way to the Oval Office for a meeting after a State Arrival Ceremony at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto walk along the Colonnade around the Rose Garden on their way to the Oval Office for a meeting after a State Arrival Ceremony at the White House, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

First lady Jill Biden, from right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto speak to students at a cybersecurity class at the Advanced Technical Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

First lady Jill Biden, from right, and Kenya's first lady Rachel Ruto speak to students at a cybersecurity class at the Advanced Technical Center, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto talk following a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto talk following a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A place setting is seen atop a sequined tablecloth during a media preview, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, ahead of Thursday evening's State Dinner with Kenya's President William Ruto, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A place setting is seen atop a sequined tablecloth during a media preview, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, ahead of Thursday evening's State Dinner with Kenya's President William Ruto, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement Wednesday that pledges mutual aid if either country faces “aggression,” a strategic pact that comes as both face escalating standoffs with the West.

Details of the deal were not immediately clear, but it could mark the strongest connection between Moscow and Pyongyang since the end of the Cold War. Both leaders described it as a major upgrade of their relations, covering security, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian ties.

The summit came as Putin visited North Korea for the first time in 24 years and the U.S. and its allies expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions for its war in Ukraine, in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

Kim said the two countries had a “fiery friendship,” and that the deal was their “strongest ever treaty,” putting the relationship at the level of an alliance. He vowed full support for Russia's war in Ukraine.

Putin called it a “breakthrough document” reflecting shared desires to move relations to a higher level.

North Korea and the former Soviet Union signed a treaty in 1961 that experts say necessitated Moscow’s military intervention if the North came under attack. The deal was discarded after the collapse of the USSR, replaced by one in 2000 that offered weaker security assurances. It wasn’t immediately clear if the new deal provides a similar level of protection as the 1961 treaty.

Kim met Putin at the airport, where the two shook hands, hugged twice and rode together in a limousine. The huge motorcade rolled through the capital’s brightly lit streets, where buildings were decorated with giant Russian flags and portraits of Putin.

After spending the night at a state guest house, Putin was welcomed Wednesday morning in a ceremony at the city’s main square, filled with what appeared to be tens of thousands of spectators, including children with balloons and people in coordinated T-shirts of the red, white and blue national colors of both countries. Crowds lining the streets chanted “Welcome Putin,” and waved flowers and flags.

Putin and Kim saluted an honor guard and walked across a red carpet. Kim introduced key members of his leadership, including Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui; top aide and ruling party secretary Jo Yong Won; and the leader’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong.

At their talks, Putin thanked Kim for North Korea’s support in Ukraine, part of what he said was a “fight against the imperialist hegemonistic policies of the U.S. and its satellites against the Russian Federation.”

Putin praised ties that he traced to the Soviet army fighting the Japanese military on the Korean Peninsula at the end of World War II, and Moscow’s support for Pyongyang during the Korean War.

What kind of support was pledged in the agreement was not spelled out. Kim has used similar language before, consistently saying North Korea supports what he describes as a just action to protect Russia’s interests and blaming the crisis on the West’s “hegemonic policy.”

North Korea is under heavy U.N. Security Council sanctions over its weapons program, while Russia also faces sanctions by the U.S. and its Western partners over its invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. and South Korean officials accuse the North of providing Russia with artillery, missiles and other military equipment for use in Ukraine, possibly in return for key military technologies and aid. On Tuesday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said that in recent months, Washington has seen North Korea “unlawfully transfer dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 containers of munitions to aid Russia’s war effort.”

Both Pyongyang and Moscow deny accusations of weapons transfers, which would violate multiple U.N. Security Council sanctions that Russia previously endorsed.

Along with China, Russia has provided political cover for Kim’s efforts to advance his nuclear arsenal, repeatedly blocking U.S.-led efforts to impose fresh U.N. sanctions on the North over its weapons tests.

In March, a Russian veto in the Security Council ended monitoring of U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program, prompting Western accusations that Moscow is seeking to avoid scrutiny as it buys weapons from Pyongyang.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Pyongyang the leaders exchanged gifts after the talks. Putin presented Kim with a Russian-made Aurus limousine and other gifts, including a tea set and a naval officer’s dagger. Ushakov said Kim's presents to Putin included artwork depicting the Russian leader.

Later, Putin and Kim attended a concert featuring marching soldiers, weapons-throwing, dancing and patriotic songs. Putin clapped and spoke to Kim through a translator, saying something that made both laugh.

At a dinner before Putin left for Vietnam, he cited a proverb that said “a close neighbor is better than a distant relative,” while Kim toasted the “immortality of the invincible DPRK-Russia relations that are the envy of the world.”

Earlier, Putin said the partnership included cooperation in political, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian fields, in addition to security. He added that Russia would not rule out developing military-technical cooperation with North Korea.

The Kremlin’s website said they also signed an agreement to build a road bridge on their border, and another on cooperation in health care, medical education and science.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Putin’s visit to North Korea illustrates how Russia tries, “in desperation, to develop and to strengthen relations with countries that can provide it with what it needs to continue the war of aggression that it started against Ukraine.”

Koo Byoungsam, spokesperson of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said the Seoul government was still interpreting the results of the summit, including what Russia's response might be if the North comes under attack.

China is North Korea’s biggest ally and economic lifeline, accounting for most of the country’s trade. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said high-level exchanges between Moscow and Pyongyang are “bilateral arrangements between two sovereign states,” without giving a specific assessment of the agreements.

Sam Greene of the Center for European Policy Analysis said Putin’s trip to Pyongyang is an indication of how beholden he is to some other countries since invading Ukraine. Previously, “it was always the North Koreans coming to Russia. It wasn’t the other way around,” he said.

The trip is a good way to make “the West nervous” by demonstrating Moscow has interests and clout beyond Ukraine, Greene added.

The North could also seek to increase labor exports to Russia and other activities to get foreign currency in defiance of U.N. sanctions, according to the Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank run by South Korea’s main spy agency. There will likely be talks about expanding cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and mining and further promoting Russian tourism to North Korea, the institute said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years, with the pace of both Kim’s weapons tests and combined military exercises involving the U.S., South Korea and Japan intensifying in a tit-for-tat cycle.

The Koreas also have engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare that involved North Korea dropping tons of trash on the South with balloons, and the South broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda with its loudspeakers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Liberation Monument in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Liberation Monument in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile as they walk after the talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile as they walk after the talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, center right, attend a gala concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, center right, attend a gala concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepare to drive a Russian Aurus limousine during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepare to drive a Russian Aurus limousine during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, attend a gala concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, attend a gala concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un exchange documents during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and Kim signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un exchange documents during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and Kim signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un exchange documents during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and Kim signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un exchange documents during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and Kim signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony of the new partnership with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony of the new partnership with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he talks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he talks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, left, speak to the media after their talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, left, speak to the media after their talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk to each other during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk to each other during their tete-a-tete meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the official welcome ceremony with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the official welcome ceremony with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo after the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo after the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during a signing ceremony of the new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a new partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked, during a Wednesday summit that came as both face escalating standoffs with the West. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A TV screen shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news program, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. North Korean leader Kim promised full support for Russia's war in Ukraine before beginning a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Putin in Pyongyang on Wednesday, in a bid to expand their economic and military cooperation and show a united front against Washington. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A TV screen shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a news program, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. North Korean leader Kim promised full support for Russia's war in Ukraine before beginning a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Putin in Pyongyang on Wednesday, in a bid to expand their economic and military cooperation and show a united front against Washington. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

North Korea's people attend the official welcome ceremony with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

North Korea's people attend the official welcome ceremony with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second right, attend the talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second right, attend the talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin drives along a street in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin drives along a street in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo after the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo after the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, arrive to attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, arrive to attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un roll in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un roll in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo after the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo after the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands while posing for a photo prior to their talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands while posing for a photo prior to their talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

People, holding portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin, greet and applaud as a motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un move past in a street in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

People, holding portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin, greet and applaud as a motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un move past in a street in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second right, greet each other during the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second right, greet each other during the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, shake hands during the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, shake hands during the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second right, shake hands during the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second right, shake hands during the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, foreground right, attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

In this photo provided Wednesday, June 19, 2024, by the North Korean government, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, center right, talk upon Putin's arrival at the Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

In this photo provided Wednesday, June 19, 2024, by the North Korean government, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, center right, talk upon Putin's arrival at the Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This photo provided Wednesday, June 19, 2024, by the North Korean government shows a motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This photo provided Wednesday, June 19, 2024, by the North Korean government shows a motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This photo provided Wednesday, June 19, 2024, by the North Korean government, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the state guest house in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This photo provided Wednesday, June 19, 2024, by the North Korean government, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the state guest house in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, center right, walk together during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin, center left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, center right, walk together during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un greet each other during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un greet each other during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, walks as North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with the Russian delegation during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, walks as North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with the Russian delegation during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - A motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un rolls from the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - A motorcade with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un rolls from the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk to each other during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

CORRECTS DATE TO EARLY WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk to each other during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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