Putin says 'shrewd and mature' North Korean leader has 'won this round'

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “shrewd and mature” and had won the latest standoff with the West over his nuclear and missile programs.

“I think that Mr Kim Jong Un has obviously won this round. He has completed his strategic task: he has a nuclear weapon, he has missiles of global reach, up to 13,000 km, which can reach almost any point of the globe,” Putin told Russian journalists at a televised meeting.

Russia has voted at the United Nations in favor of international sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program, while urging the West to show restraint and calling for talks over the issue.

Putin reiterated that dialogue with North Korea was warranted, and said Kim now wanted to calm the situation.

“He is already a shrewd and mature politician,” Putin said.

North Korea and South Korea held talks on Tuesday after a prolonged period of tension on the Korean peninsula over the North’s missile and nuclear programs.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Christian Lowe; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Peter Graff