Russia intrigued by possible N.Korean leader visit
The head of a Russian district bordering North Korea said on Tuesday he had received no alerts from border guards about a possible visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il amid reports that he would arrive for talks later this week.
Citing multiple intelligence sources in Moscow, Japan's Mainichi Shimbun daily reported earlier in the day that North Korea and Russia were in final talks to arrange a summit between Kim and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Vladivostok on Friday.
Several other foreign and Russian media outlets carried unconfirmed reports about the possible bilateral summit over the past days.
Alexander Naryzhny, head of the Pacific region's Khasan district which sits on the border with North Korea, said he had received no orders to prepare for a visit.
"There was some talk at the local level. We have not received any orders so far," he told AFP by phone.
"But so far border guards have not notified me. Everything is calm," he said, adding his office had been flooded with calls from Russia and abroad about the possible Kim trip.
If Kim arrives, it would be his first visit to the Cold War ally since 2002, when he met then president Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok. Russia's Khasan district would be the point of entry for the North Korean leader, who is known for travelling in an armored train.
Naryzhny said however that when Kim travelled to Russia in 2002 the district administration had first-hand information of the visit which was not kept secret. Kremlin officials have repeatedly declined to comment on the reports.
Medvedev is expected in Vladivostok on Thursday where he is set to chair a meeting on preparations for an APEC summit the city is set to host in 2012, local officials say.
Police in the city of Vladivostok are on high alert, a police source told AFP.
"We are expecting him [Medvedev] on the 30th," a police source in Vladivostok said on condition of anonymity, saying they so far did not have his schedule. He could not provide further details.
Concerning Kim's possible visit, Japan's Mainichi newspaper said North Korea is expected to seek economic assistance from its powerful neighbour while Russia hopes to bolster ties with the communist state in the interest of regional security.
Russia, which has called for an early resumption of six-way nuclear disarmament talks in which it takes part along with the two Koreas, the United States, China and Japan, is also expected to discuss the issue with the North Korean leader, it said.
The two leaders will likely talk about bilateral economic cooperation, including the construction of gas pipelines and railroads linking the Siberian railway and the Korean Peninsula, the Mainichi said.
South Korea's top diplomat said earlier he had no information on the possibility of Kim's first overseas visit since his May trip to China, Yonhap news agency reported.
© 2011 AFP