Russia's President Vladimir Putin has called for stronger ties with North Korea to boost regional security, after meeting with a senior Pyongyang official.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a personal envoy to Moscow on Tuesday in a rare visit that coincided with a United Nations committee call for the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court over its human rights record.
In a non-binding vote on Tuesday, 111 countries voted in favour of referring Pyongyang to the ICC over alleged crimes against humanity, while 19 voted against the notion and 55 abstained.
While the Kremlin released no details of Putin's meeting with Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide of the North Korean leader, Putin spoke of the need to strengthen bilateral ties on Wednesday.
"We maintain friendly relations with one of our neighbours, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," he said in a televised address, as he received the credentials of North Korea's new ambassador to Russia.
"A further deepening of political ties and trade and economic cooperation is definitely in the interests of the people of both countries and ensuring regional stability and security," Putin said.
Meanwhile, a Russian foreign ministry source told the Interfax news agency that the delegates would discuss economic developments, bilateral ties and the North Korean nuclear programme.