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NK leader tours Siberian lake ahead of talks

In a visit shrouded in mystery, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il gets a picturesque taste of Siberia before talking shop.

Kim jong il siberiaEnlarge
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il looks at the view from the Bureiskaya hydro power station in Talakan on August 21, 2011, some 175 kilometers east from the town of Blagoveshchensk. (PORT AMUR AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has arrived in the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude, a day ahead of a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The leaders are expected to discuss the restart of nuclear disarmament talks, a railway connecting North and South Korea and the construction of a pipeline that would stream Russian natural gas to the Koreas.

On the fourth day of his Russia trip, Kim arrived by armored train in Ulan-Ude, near Lake Baikal in the Buddhist region of Buryatia, where he was greeted by Russian officials at the station.

The Associated Press reported that Kim's the left by motorcade for the picturesque village of Turka, on the shores of Baikal. The reclusive leader will also visit an aircraft factory.

Kim is expected to meet Medvedev on Wednesday in the village of Sosnovy Bor, about 30 miles from Ulan-Ude.

Analysts say Kim's first visit to Russia in nine years - which comes less than three months after he traveled to China - is aimed at suring up economic aid for his country, which is bound economic sanctions, and is experiencing shortages.

(Read more on GlobalPost: North Korean leader arrives in Russia for talks and Is the end of Kim Jong Il the only hope?)

It is also widely believed that Kim, 69, is seeking support for a transfer of power to his youngest son Kim Jong Un.

Moscow had provided North Korea with decades of military and economic support before the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

The North has since realigned its foreign policy toward China, and this latest trip is seen as a possible attempt to balance China's influence by forging closer ties with Russia.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/110823/kim-jong-il-north-korea-russia