May 4, 2015 / 1:12 AM / 2 years ago

North Korea's titular head of state to visit Moscow instead of Kim Jong Un

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s titular head of state will travel to Moscow this month instead of the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, for ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, according to state media.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly, before a reception to greet high-ranked foreign guests prior to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony in Sochi, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

On Thursday, the Kremlin had said Kim Jong Un would not be attending the events in Moscow, dashing expectations for what would have been his first overseas visit since taking power in 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

On Monday, Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, would visit Russia for the celebrations.

China’s Foreign Ministry said that President Xi Jinping would attend the Moscow events too, as part of a trip that will also include stops in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

While visiting Moscow would have been an opportunity for Kim Jong Un to chip away at his country’s international isolation and improve his image, some analysts had questioned whether he would choose for his first overseas visit an event where he would share the stage with several leaders and have less control over proceedings than in a two-way summit.

Reporting by Tony Munroe; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Paul Simao and Alex Richardson

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