SEOUL/MOSCOW: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia by private train to the strains of a military band on Tuesday for talks with President Vladimir Putin - amid warnings from Washington they should not trade weapons.
Kim left Pyongyang for Russia on Sunday on board his train, which sports a signature olive green paint scheme, the North's state media reported on Tuesday, accompanied by top arms industry and military officials.
Video footage released by Russian state TV showed Kim as he stepped off his train onto a red carpet at a station in the Russian far east to be greeted by a welcome delegation. A military band arrayed on the platform at the railway station struck up soon afterwards.
Kim had arrived on Tuesday morning, leaving his train to meet Russian officials in Khasan, the main rail gateway to Russia's Far East, before continuing on.
Footage released by Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Russia's far eastern Primorsky region, showed Kim, sat in a big white chair, talking with a delegation led by Alexander Kozlov, Russia's minister for natural resources.
"It will be a fully fledged visit," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "There will be negotiations between two delegations, and after that, if necessary, the leaders will continue their communication in a one-on-one format."
Discussions could cover humanitarian aid to North Korea and the U.N. Security Council resolutions imposed against Pyongyang, Russian officials said.
U.S. officials said arms talks between Russia and North Korea were actively advancing and that Kim and Putin were likely to discuss providing Russia with weapons for the war in Ukraine.
There has been no confirmation of the site of the summit, but Kim's train passed the junction for Russia's Pacific port of Vladivostok, where Putin was attending a conference.
The make-up of Kim's delegation, including top defence industry and military officials with the notable presence of Munitions Industry Department Director Jo Chun Ryong, suggested an agenda heavy on defence industry cooperation, analysts said.
Kim could offer artillery rounds from North Korea's large stockpile, which could replenish Russia's capabilities in the short term, but questions about the ammunition's quality may limit the overall impact, military analysts said.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's office said many countries were watching with concern the summit between "North Korea which has been sanctioned by the United Nations, and Russia, which is a permanent member of the Security Council". — Reuters