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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Wes Brown is sent-off
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower