VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-il arrived in Russia yesterday for his first visit in nearly a decade as the isolated state sought economic aid after heavy flooding exacerbated its chronic food shortages.
Kim will meet President Dmitry Medvedev and will spend time in the Far East and Siberia, the Kremlin said in a statement. The meeting is expected to take place around mid-week.
Russia and North Korea were once politically close, but relations cooled and trade fell sharply after the collapse of the Communist Soviet Union in 1991.
Kim arrived in the town of Khasan, near the short border between North Korea and Russia, on a train and was greeted by the Primorye region governor and Medvedev’s representative in the Russian Far East, a regional government source said.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government source, said Kim was expected to stay in Russia for a week and would probably hold talks with Medvedev in Ulan-Ude, 2,050 km (1,275 miles) further west near Lake Baikal in Siberia.
The local edition of the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets in Ulan-Ude said Kim’s train was likely to arrive there on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The brief Kremlin statement confirmed Kim was arriving yesterday and said he would spend time in the Far East and Siberia. “The main event of the visit will be President Dmitry Medvedev’s meeting with Kim Jong-il,” it said.