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North Korean leader arrives in Russia
Kim Jong-Il to hold talks with President Dmitry Medvedev over North Korea's food crisis and its nuclear programme.
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2011 08:16
 Moscow's support for Jong-Il's succession by his son Kim Jong-Un, left, is expected to be on the agenda [EPA]

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il has arrived in Russia in his armoured train ahead of talks with President Dmitry Medvedev.

During the visit, his first since 2002, Kim is expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear programme, a worsening food crisis in the isolated state and bilateral economic projects with Russia.

"A meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Kim Jong-ll will be the main event of the visit," the Kremlin said in a statement, saying Kim would also visit the Far Eastern and Siberian regions of the country.

Kim, who is known to dislike air travel due to security concerns, arrived in Khasan district after crossing the Tumangan river at 12 pm local time (0100 GMT) on Saturday, district head Alexander Naryzhny, who attended the ceremony, told the AFP news agency.

Kim last travelled to the Cold War ally in 2002 when he met then-president Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok.

This time Kim is expected to meet with Medvedev in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude near Lake Baikal later this week.

The visit comes as fears mount of a worsening hunger crisis in North Korea, putting at risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

The Russian foreign ministry said on Friday that Moscow was sending up to 50,000 tonnes of wheat to North Korea to help it cope with an "acute shortage of food supplies".

The situation has become so dire that an increasing number of North Koreans have resorted to eating grass, the European Commission has said.

The impoverished country has relied heavily on international aid to feed its 24 million people since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the mid 1990s.

Food aid

Professor Yang Moo-Jin, from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Kim's latest visit to Russia was aimed at obtaining food aid and economic assistance.

Moscow's support for a third-generation father-to-son succession by his youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong-Un, and Russia's co-operation in resuming stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme, will also be on the agenda, he said.

A flurry of diplomatic efforts have been under way to resume the disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

Moscow boasts historically close ties to the communist state and Kim's visit is expected to be touted as a diplomatic coup for Moscow.

Kim and Medvedev were widely expected to hold a bilateral summit in, or near, the Russian Far Eastern port of Vladivostok earlier this summer.

A Kremlin official was quoted as saying at that time that Kim had cancelled his plans to come to Russia due to media leaks that he would be travelling.

Source:
Agencies
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