SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia today for his summit with President Vladimir Putin in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
North Korean media published photos of Kim saluting an honor guard and waving to people carrying flowers at a rail station before boarding his khaki-green armored train for the lengthy journey. Russia's Tass news agency quoted a local official as saying Kim was given flowers, bread and salt at the Hasan train station after crossing the border.
Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told Russian media that the summit on Thursday will focus on North Korea's nuclear program, noting that Russia will seek to "consolidate the positive trends" stemming from President Donald Trump's meetings with Kim.
Kim had two summits with Trump, but the latest in Vietnam in February collapsed because North Korea wanted more sanctions relief than Washington was willing to give for the amount of nuclear disarmament offered by Pyongyang.
Putin's adviser said the Kremlin would try to help "create preconditions and a favorable atmosphere for reaching solid agreements on the problem of the Korean Peninsula."
Ushakov pointed at a Russia-China road map that offered a step-by-step approach to solving the nuclear standoff and called for sanctions relief and security guarantees to Pyongyang. He noted that the North's moratorium on nuclear tests and scaling down of U.S.-South Korean military drills helped reduce tensions and created conditions for further progress.
Ushakov said the Putin-Kim summit's agenda also will include bilateral cooperation. He added that Russia's trade with North Korea is minuscule at just $34 million last year, mostly because of the international sanctions against Pyongyang.
Russia would like to gain broader access to North Korea's mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang, for its part, covets Russia's electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize its dilapidated Soviet-built industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.
In the meantime, Vladivostok has been seeing a number of unusually strict security measures. Maritime authorities said Tuesday that the waters around Russky Island, off the southern tip of Vladivostok, would be closed to all maritime traffic between today and Friday morning.
The island has a university with a conference hall and is seen as a likely summit venue.
Separately, media outlets reported that some platforms at Vladivostok's main train station would be closed for several days, and that buses will be rerouted from the train station today.
News website Vl.ru reported on road construction to even out the entrance at the train station, possibly to allow Kim's limousine to drive straight off the platform.
North Korea has so far not gotten what it wants most from the recent flurry of high-level summitry between Kim and various world leaders -- namely, relief from crushing international sanctions. There are concerns that a recent North Korean weapon test and taunts at Washington over deadlocked nuclear negotiations mean that Pyongyang may again return to the nuclear and long-range missile tests that had many in Asia fearing war in 2017.
North Korea announced last week that it had tested what it called a new type of "tactical guided weapon." While unlikely to be a prohibited test of a medium- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle the negotiations, the announcement signaled the North's growing disappointment with the diplomatic breakdown.
Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.
A Section on 04/24/2019
Print Headline: Putin-Kim meeting set for Thursday