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Russia says it will deepen ties with North Korea, doesn't confirm Putin-Kim letter exchange

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during their meeting in Vladivostok

(Reuters) - Russia said on Thursday it intended to develop ties with North Korea, while not confirming a statement by the White House that Russian President Vladimir Putin had exchanged letters with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The White House said on Wednesday it was concerned that arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea were advancing actively, and said Putin and Kim had written to each other pledging to increase their cooperation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not answer directly when asked by reporters if the letter exchange had taken place.

"Moscow and Pyongyang maintain good, mutually respectful relations. We intend to develop them further. Contacts are being made at various levels," he said, calling North Korea "a very important neighbour".

Washington has warned before that North Korea could provide more weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine. Earlier this month the United States imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia.

(Reporting by Reuters, Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Alex Richardson)