Mystery tour for Kim Jong-il train in Russia
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.
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 4 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Stella McCartney apologises over controversial 'very ill' model picture on Instagram
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Cheryl Cole named 'the most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher required for ...
£55000 - £60000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...