Mystery tour for Kim Jong-il train in Russia

 

Moscow

Kim Jong-Il and his armoured train arrived in Russia over the weekend to begin a trip shrouded in secrecy, during which he is expected to meet Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. The North Korean leader will travel thousands of miles on the specially equipped train, and yesterday made a brief stop to tour a hydroelectric plant.

Photographers from Russian media outlets have been banned from taking any pictures of the train, and no official timetable of the Korean leader's movements has been released. A Kremlin spokesperson confirmed that Mr Medvedev and Mr Kim would meet, but said he could not offer any information about where and when.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the two leaders will meet tomorrow in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, nearly 2,000 miles along the Trans-Siberian railway from the border with North Korea. It is unknown if he will also meet with the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.

Mr Kim has a fear of flying and always travels by train. He visited China in May but it is his first trip to Russia since 2002, when he took a brief train ride to the east of the country for talks with Mr Putin, then the president. A year earlier, he spent almost a month in Russia, going to Moscow and back by train.

On the agenda for the Russian leadership this time will be the stalled talks over North Korea's nuclear programme, and possibly also the construction of a pipeline that will send Russian natural gas to South Korea, via the North. The project would provide much needed energy to South Korea and potentially earn the North much-needed revenue from transit fees, but construction has not started due to poor relations between the two Koreas.

North Korea is believed to be keen to restart talks over the nuclear weapons programme in return for increased aid to avert famine in the country. Russia said last week that it would deliver 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the country. Mr Kim is also believed to be seeking Russian backing for a transfer of power to his son, Kim Jong Un, who was not among the officials that North Korean state media said were accompanying the leader on the trip.

The train was met by high ranking officials when it crossed into Russia at the border town of Khasan on Saturday. Mr Kim disembarked yesterday, wearing his trademark khaki jumpsuit and dark glasses, to tour a hydro-electric plant and its 139-metre dam. Women in traditional Russian costumes proffered bread and salt to the North Korean leader, who stood for several minutes watching the water cascade down, before returning to the train.

The Russian newspaper Rossisskaya Gazeta reported that Mr Kim's train is made up of Russian carriages that have been specially modernised in Japan. The interiors are richly luxurious and the train is equipped with computers, internet and satellite communications. It is believed that the carriage used for official talks was a gift from Joseph Stalin to Mr Kim's father, Kim il Sung.

A special locomotive travels ahead of the main train for extra safety, and the cargo carriage contains two armoured Mercedes to transport Mr Kim when the train stops.

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Fundraising Analyst/Web Analyst - West Sussex - Permanent - £30k DOE

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Application Support Engineer – 6 month FTC – West Sussex - £26k-£28k pro rata

£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher required for ...

Head of IT Change – West Sussex – Up to £60k DOE – Permanent

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?