Russian defense minister planning to visit N.Korea

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is expected to visit North Korea as early as late October.

Sources familiar with the matter say arrangements are being made for Shoigu's visit. He is expected to meet with North Korean People's Armed Forces Minister No Kwang Chol.

Russia and North Korea have stepped up exchanges in the political and economic areas since the first talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April. In July, Moscow sent a deputy defense minister to the North, to promote cooperation in the defense field.

During Shoigu's expected visit, both sides will likely discuss interaction between their militaries as military assistance for North Korea is restricted by UN Security Council resolutions.

Observers say Russia wants to show its presence in the Korean Peninsula situation as the United States and North Korea have been negotiating the North's denuclearization.

Sources also say Shoigu plans to visit China in tandem with his tour to North Korea, indicating Moscow also wants to increase military cooperation with Beijing.