Medvedev Opens Siberian Summit With Kim Jong Il

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 3:00 am (UTC-5)
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met at a military base in Siberia Wednesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Russian media released photos of the two leaders shaking hands at the base in the city of Ulan-Ude on the shores of Lake Baikal. Mr. Kim, who spent Tuesday taking a boat ride on the lake and touring an aircraft factory, was quoted telling Mr. Medvedev he was having “a happy trip.”

Russian officials said the leaders would discuss Mr. Kim's desire for an early resumption of six-country talks on a deal to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs in exchange for economic and diplomatic benefits. The two were also expected to talk about a proposed gas pipeline through North Korea, as well as Pyongyang's requests for food aid.

Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency said last week that Mr. Medvedev has requested North Korean cooperation on the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia, through North Korea to South Korea.

Such a pipeline would give South Korea huge savings on natural gas shipments from Russia, which are to begin later in this decade. North Korea would be able to ease its shortage of hard currency by charging up to $100 million a year in transit fees.

KCNA said Russia has also proposed 3-party cooperation in other energy fields and on a rail line linking Seoul to Russia's Trans-Siberia Railway.

The talks come as a senior delegation of Russian military officials visits Pyongyang for talks on expanded military cooperation. Russian reports said the talks would focus on natural disaster relief and the possibility of joint maneuvers to rescue ships in distress.