North Korean leader arrives in Russia: official

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on Saturday arrived in Russia, crossing the border in his armoured train, a Russian official in the Far East told AFP.

"He arrived today," said Alexander Naryzhny, head of the Far Eastern Hhasan district which borders North Korea. It is the reclusive leader's first visit to Russia since 2002.

Kim is widely expected to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for talks. The Kremlin declined to immediately confirm Kim's arrival.

Officials in the Pacific region including the governor and Kremlin's envoy held a welcome ceremony for Kim in Khasan, said Naryzhny who also attended the ceremony.

Kim, who is known to dislike air travel due to security concerns, arrived in Khasan district after crossing the Tumangan river at 12 pm local time (0100 GMT), Naryzhny said.

He said he was unaware of the North Korean leader's programme in Russia, adding he did not leave his train upon arrival.

Kim and Medvedev were widely expected to hold a bilateral summit in or near the Russian Far Eastern port of Vladivostok earlier this summer.

A Kremlin official was quoted as saying at that time that Kim had cancelled his plans to come to Russia due to media leaks that he would be travelling.

© 2011 AFP

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