Kim arrives in Russia for talks with Putin

Moscow, April 24 (IANS) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday, ahead of his first summit with President Vladimir Putin amid stalled nuclear talks with the US.

"I arrived in Russia bearing the warm feelings of our people, and as I already said, I hope this visit will be successful and useful," Kim told Russian channel Rossiya 24.

Russian state television showed Kim, in a black homburg and overcoat, stepping out of his green private train at the city railway station in the afternoon where he was greeted with military honours. 

He was accorded a red carpet welcome by Minister for the Development of Russian Far East Alexander Kozlov and Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov. Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexandr Matsegora and Primorsky Krai Governor Oleg Kozhemiako were also part of the welcome delegation.

Upon leaving the railway station, a military orchestra played the North Korean and Russian anthems. Before getting into a limousine, Kim and the Russian officials inspected the guard of honour.

The North Korean delegation then departed to the Vladivostok's island of Russki, where the Far Eastern Federal University campus is located and where Kim will meet President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, Efe news reported.

Kim arrived from Khasan where he stopped at 10.30 a.m. after crossing the Russian-North Korean border. The journey from Khasan to Vladivostok took about nine hours. 

At the Khasan station, he was presented with flowers as well as bread and salt, a Russian tradition for welcoming guests, local lawmaker Natalia Karpova told Russian state news agency TASS.

"I hope during the talks with President Putin, I will be able to discuss in a concrete manner issues relating to the settlement of situation on the Korean peninsula and to the development of our bilateral relations," he said.

Remarking that his father Kim Jong-Il loved Russia, Kim said he intended to stay true to the tradition and strengthen bilateral cooperation.

According to the Russian media, the North Korean leader visited the Russian-Korean House of Friendship, also known as the "House of Kim Il-sung", (his grandfather). It was built in 1986 to mark the visit of the former North Korean leader to the erstwhile Soviet Union. 

Kim's visit to Russia comes amid an impasse in the nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington. US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader's Hanoi meeting ended early without an agreement, with the two sides seemingly far apart on how to trade sanctions relief for meaningful steps toward denuclearisation.

During Kim's visit, North Korea may seek Russian support in pressuring Washington over sanctions relief, which continues to be a major sticking issue in talks between the two sides. 

The Trump administration earlier said sanctions would only be lifted after Pyongyang gave up its nuclear weapons programme.

Pyongyang may also be seeking to lessen its economic reliance on Beijing, North Korea's only significant trading partner. 

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