Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Vietnamese counterpart Thursday as he began a state visit to Hanoi, a day after signing a mutual defence pact with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Putin and Kim inked a strategic treaty at a summit in Pyongyang that included a commitment to come to each other’s aid if attacked. Kim also pledged his “full support” for Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Washington and its allies accuse North Korea of supplying ammunition and missiles to Russia for its war in Ukraine, and the deal has fuelled fears of more deliveries.

The US State Department said deepening Russia-North Korea ties were “of great concern” while a top Ukrainian official accused Pyongyang of abetting Moscow’s “mass murder of Ukrainians”.

Putin was welcomed by newly installed Vietnamese President To Lam and a military guard at the presidential palace in Hanoi.

He will hold talks with Lam and later meet other senior Vietnamese leaders including Nguyen Phu Trong, the powerful general secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

By Damon Wake and Cat Barton with AFP