A lavish menu of duck and fig salad, crab dumplings, sturgeon and beef was presented to Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin as they discussed a potential arms and weapons technology deal at a cosmodrome in Russia’s far east on Wednesday.
Their rich meal started with speciality dumplings made with Kamchatka crab, White Amur fish soup and a sorbet from sea buckthorn, a deciduous shrub – all washed down with red and white wines from the Divnomorskoe manor in Southern Russia, according to a Kremlin reporter.
The main course offered a choice of sturgeon with mushrooms and potatoes or an entrecote of marbled beef with grilled vegetables, followed by a calorific dessert of red bilberries from the taiga with pine nuts and condensed milk.
Putin and Kim discussed the possibility of sending a North Korean into space, Russian news agencies quoted the Russian president’s spokesman as saying.
Kim is visiting Russia as Putin seeks to bolster alliances with other leaders ostracised by Western countries. The US says Moscow is attempting to buy weapons to support its war in Ukraine.
The two leaders met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, with footage released by the Kremlin showing the pair shaking hands enthusiastically as Kim arrived in his private armoured train.
They then toured assembly and launch facilities for the Angara and Soyuz-2 space rocket launchers before sitting down for dinner and talks.
“We talked about the fact that if the North Korean side wishes, a North Korean cosmonaut can be trained and sent into space,” the TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted Dmitry Peskov as saying.
If that were to happen, the cosmonaut would be the first North Korean ever to go into space.
The meeting at the cosmodrome was symbolic, especially as Pyongyang recently failed twice in its bid to put a military spy satellite into orbit.
Known to love his fine foodKim is often pictured sharing a meal with his generals, naval chiefs and foreign dignitaries, laughing over several bottles of expensive fine wine.
In recent years, culinary highlights have included an opulent dinner with South Korean officials in Pyongyang during a 2018 diplomatic détente, where one of his guests was said to have exclaimed that the “bottles kept coming!”
On that occasion, the wine was reported to be French, from Bourgogne, sourced from an abundant wine cellar stocked before the European Union slapped sanctions on alcohol imports in 2017.
The South Koreans returned the hospitality a month later, at a dinner during landmark peace talks in the demilitarised zone between the two countries, where they offered him rösti, a Swiss potato dish, in a thoughtful gesture that recalled his childhood growing up in Switzerland.
In February 2019, Kim enjoyed one of his most extravagant working dinners to date at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi with former US president Donald Trump.
The two men shared their thoughts on denuclearisation over a sirloin steak and chocolate lava cake, accompanied by a distilled liquor called munbaeju that is 40 per cent alcohol by volume.
Nuclear disarmament talks collapsed the next day and tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiralled ever since.
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