N.Korea- Russia summit on Wednesday: source

22nd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Il on Monday rumbled across Siberia aboard his armoured train heading for a secrecy-shrouded summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

A Russian official familiar with the planning told AFP the two leaders's rare meeting would take place in the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude on Wednesday.

"The guest is arriving tomorrow," the regional official, who refused to go on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation, said on Monday.

"Our (leader) will be there Wednesday," he said.

The talks will 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, he said.

Kim will also be shown around the picturesque shores of Lake Baikal and offered a boat ride, the official said.

He did not provide further details, saying he had given a written pledge not to disclose this information.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a Seoul-based senior government official as saying: "There is a possibility that Kim will arrive in Ulan-Ude on Aug. 23 and hold the summit on Aug. 24 after spending a night."

In an apparent nod to Kim's concerns about personal safety, the Kremlin imposed a virtual blanket ban on information about the plans and itinerary of the 69-year-old leader, now rumbling across the Trans-Siberian railway aboard his special train.

The Kremlin said in a terse statement that the summit would be the highlight of the reclusive Kim's week-long tour of Russia's Far East and Siberia, his second visit to the giant neighbour since 2002.

Monday was the third day of Kim's week-long trek, 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 the ITAR-TASS news agency.

The talks are expected to focus on energy cooperation, Pyongyang's nuclear programme and hunger in the isolated Communist state, although analysts doubt they will bring any major results.

"The main result of the visit is the very fact of the visit," Konstantin Asmolov, a Korea specialist at the Moscow-based Institute of the Far East, told AFP.

The Kremlin announced the high-profile visit several hours after Kim's armoured train crossed the border into Russia on Saturday.

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

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.

The delegation led by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko, commander of the Eastern Military District, would remain in North Korea until Friday, it said.

Kim is travelling across Russia amid a fresh flare-up in ties with South Korea whose president Lee Myung-Bak is expected for a visit in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan on Tuesday.

In the new conflict the isolated communist state ordered all South Koreans to leave the Mount Kumgang resort and said it was taking control of all assests there.

© 2011 AFP

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