NKorean leader arrives in Siberian city ahead of summit

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Tuesday arrived in the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude aboard his armoured train ahead of a summit with his Russian counterpart, Russian news agencies reported.

Kim's train arrived on Tuesday morning in Ulan-Ude, 5,550 kilometres (3,450 miles) east of Moscow, where he is due to hold a rare meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

The reclusive leader met Medvedev's envoy to Far Eastern Russia and local officials before driving off in a motorcade towards the shore of nearby Lake Baikal, the agency reported, as his exact programme remained secret.

The leader later arrived at the lakeside village of Turka, where a modern resort zone is under construction, ITAR-Tass reported, citing an informed source.

A regional official familiar with the planning told AFP earlier that Kim was due to meet Medvedev on Wednesday in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the largely Buddhist region of Buryatia.

On Tuesday Kim was expected to tour the shores of picturesque Lake Baikal and to be offered a boat ride, the official said.

Official visits to the lakeside usually include a visit to Turka resort, a boat trip and a lunch of local delicacies including traditional Buryat dishes and fresh fish, ITAR-TASS reported.

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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