Europe

North Korean Leader Arrives in Russia on Rare Visit

In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Un, right, along with his father and North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, left, attend a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.

In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Un, right, along with his father and North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, left, attend a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.  (AP)

MOSCOW -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il arrived in Russia aboard his armored train Saturday on a rare overseas visit ahead of planned talks with President Dimitry Medvedev.

North Korea's official news agency confirmed the trip, describing it as "an unofficial visit to Siberia and the Far Eastern region of the Russian Federation at the invitation of Dmitry Medvedev."

"During the visit, the top leaders of the two countries will have a meeting," the Korean Central News Agency said, without elaborating.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Kim, 69, would meet Medvedev in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude on Tuesday, quoting unnamed sources in Moscow.

The meeting would take place in a military facility, which was visited in advance by a North Korean military unit.

Officials in Russia's Pacific region, including the governor and the Kremlin's envoy, held a welcome ceremony for Kim in the district of Khasan, AFP reported.

Kim, who is known to dislike air travel due to security concerns, arrived in Khasan after crossing the Tumangan river at midnight local time.

Kim and Medvedev were widely expected to hold a bilateral summit in or near the Russian Far Eastern port of Vladivostok earlier this summer, but Kim reportedly ditched the trip after media leaks.

Kim last traveled to the Cold War ally in 2002 when he met then President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok. The trip comes amid a severe food shortage in the impoverished Communist state.