S. Korea watches Kim's possible visit to Russia
South Korea said on Tuesday it was monitoring a possible visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to Russia amid reports he was planning a summit with President Dmitry Medvedev.
"We are closely watching the situation with various possibilities in mind," foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-Jae told reporters, adding that Seoul still had no information on plans for the visit.
North Korea and Russia are in final talks to arrange a summit between Kim and Medvedev in Vladivostok on Friday, Japan's Mainichi Shimbun daily reported, citing multiple intelligence sources in Moscow.
It would be Kim's first visit to Pyongyang's Cold War ally since 2002, when he met then president Vladimir Putin, also in Vladivostok, the report said.
During the visit, North Korea is expected to seek economic assistance from its powerful neighbour while Russia hopes to bolster ties with the communist state in the interests of regional security, the Mainichi said.
Russia, which has called for an early resumption of six-way nuclear disarmament talks 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 economic cooperation, including construction of gas pipelines and railroads linking the Siberian railway and the Korean Peninsula, the Mainichi said.
Kim, known to dislike air travel due to security concerns, is expected to cross the North Korean-Russian border aboard his special train by Friday, the report said.
No particular signs related to Kim's trip to Russia have been detected, the South's Yonhap news agency said, adding that security was normal around the North's border regions with China and Russia.
"If Kim travels to Russia's far east, there would be no need to go through China to reach there," a resident in the Chinese border city of Yanji told Yonhap.
© 2011 AFP