N.Korea's Kim treks through Siberia to meet Medvedev
North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Il on Monday swept through Siberia aboard his special armoured train to the city of Ulan-Ude for talks with President Dmitry Medvedev later this week.
Kim is widely expected to meet Medvedev for a rare summit, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday.
A Russian official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said that the summit was scheduled for "mid-week". Citing security concerns, the official declined to be more specific.
The talks are expected to take place in the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude near Lake Baikal in the Buddhist region of Buryatia, 5,550 kilometres (3,450 miles) east of Moscow.
Russian news agencies, citing the Russian defence ministry, said on Monday a delegation of Russian military officials had arrived in North Korea with an eye to boosting military and naval cooperation.
"The sides will discuss the prospects of cooperation of the two countries' ground forces, possibilities to conduct joint exercises and drills to search and rescue ships in distress," the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted a defence ministry spokesman as saying.
Rendering assistance to the population during natural disasters would also be on the agenda, it said, adding that the delegation led by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko, commander of the Eastern Military District, would remain in North Korea until Friday.
It was the third day of Kim's week-long visit to the Russian Far East and Siberia, a rare trip out of his country, battling food shortages and isolation. "The special train carrying the general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is going along the Trans-Siberian railway in the direction of Ulan-Ude," the administration of the Buryatia region said.
"Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, the Amur region have been left behind, and Chita is now the next big city along the Transsib railway," it said in a statement on its website quoting ITAR-TASS.
A spokesman for the Buryatia regional authorities said he was unaware of the time of Kim's expected arrival.
"Everything is being kept secret," he told AFP.
Citing security concerns, the official declined to be more specific.
Kim crossed the Tumangan river into Russia on Saturday, and on Sunday visited the 2,000-megawatt Bureiskaya hydro-power station in the Amur region, the largest in the Far East.
© 2011 AFP