Russia: North Korean leader to visit Moscow for Victory Day

AP News
Posted: Mar 17, 2015 10:29 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — The leader of North Korea is among 26 world leaders who have accepted invitations to Moscow to take part in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday.

North Korea hasn't officially commented. It would be Kim Jong Un's first foreign trip since taking power three years ago.

The highlight of the May 9 celebrations will be a military parade on the Red Square overseen by President Vladimir Putin, an annual event that will be expanded this year to include 15,000 troops, cadets and Cossacks, according to Russia's defense minister.

Several Western leaders have snubbed invitations to the military parade because of Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict. But Lavrov said that some European leaders were still expected to come, including those from Slovakia, Norway, Greece and several Balkan nations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among those staying away from the parade, but she softened the snub by deciding to visit Moscow the next day for a separate ceremony with Putin. Lavrov said Merkel's decision to come to Moscow has helped to wreck the "anti-Russian campaign."

In addition to Kim, Lavrov said the leaders of China, Cuba, India, Mongolia, South Africa and Vietnam had confirmed their attendance.