NKorean leader tours Baikal Lake ahead of Kremlin talks

23rd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Tuesday arrived in the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude to tour Lake Baikal and taste local delicacies ahead of a summit with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Kim is set to meet Medvedev for a rare summit in the eastern Siberian city 5,550 kilometres (3,450 miles) east of Moscow on Wednesday.

After the 69-year-old reclusive leader's armoured train arrived in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the tradionally Buddhist region, Tuesday morning, he was taken to see the picturesque shores of nearby Lake Baikal, a spokesman for the regional administration told AFP.

The high-profile guest was taken to the lakeside village of Turka where a modern resort zone is under construction.

The plan, the official said, was to "show him the construction of the Baikal Harbour economic zone."

World famous for its dramatic beauty, Lake Baikal contains around a fifth of the world's fresh water and is home to a variety of endemic species such as the omul fish.

The leader will also be offered a boat ride if the weather at the lake remains good and a taste of local delicacies including the omul fish and traditional Buryat dish of meat dumplings known as buuza.

The regional spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the arrival of the North Korean leader.

In an apparent nod to Kim's concerns about personal safety, the Kremlin imposed a virtual blanket ban on information about Kim's plans and itinerary.

Kim crossed the border into Russia on Saturday for a week-long trip to the Russian Far East and Siberia, his first visit to his giant neighbour since 2002.

On Sunday he visited the 2,000 megawatt-strong Bureiskaya hydro-power station in the Amur region, the largest in the Far East.

His talks with Medvedev are expected to focus on energy cooperation, Pyongyang's nuclear programme and food shortages in the isolated Communist state.

© 2011 AFP

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