Kim Jong-il Meets Russian President in Siberia
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev met with North Korean president Kim Jong-il on Wednesday in the Siberian republic of Buryatia, in a high-rank state visit that has in the center of its topics the resumption as soon as possible of the six-party talks on the Korean nuclear program.
In a statement issued by Kremlin on this visit it is said that the two presidents will not talk only about the six-party talks, which seem to be in progress, and are expected to resume soon, especially since Pyongyang is desperate to put an end to the economic mayhem the Communist country goes through, thus being open to negotiation and compromise.
Medvedev and Kim will speak also about three-way economic projects that would involve North Korea, South Korea and Russia. One of these projects refers to building a pipeline that would transport annually 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to South Korea via North Korea.
Russian foreign ministry already announced before the meeting of the president with Kim that 50,000 tons of wheat would be sent to North Korea in order to help the people in that country go through the foot shortage the country is experiencing right now. The first grain shipment already arrived last Friday, and the last will be delivered until September.
Kim came to the meeting with Medvedev in a limousine and told the Russian president he was happy to meet him again, ten years after their first encounter. Medvedev got reminiscent in turn and said that their first encounter happened in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-il arrived in Russia by the famous train, since he is afraid of traveling by plane. His train is made of 17 rail cars, and is considers some sort of railway “Air Force One.”
The presidential train had been spotted earlier this year heading toward Russia by South Korean security services, which monitor closely his activity, and it was assumed that Kim was on his way to meet with Russian leaders. Then the train turned back and the South Koreans assumed that the preparation of the visit did not go as well as planned or that the North Korean leaders did not agree with the Russian counterparts on what to discuss or what to obtain from the visit. The South Koreans also advanced the possibility that Kim’s health deteriorates and he had to turn back.
In the meantime, however, North Korea changed its stance on the relations with the neighboring countries and with the United States of America.
A high-rank visit was made to New York City by the North Korean foreign minister, who met with the American envoy to Korea and spoke about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean position on this topic seems to have drastically changed, probably as a result of Chinese pressure and of economic disaster, and thus the round of negotiations went smoothly, though North Korea insisted on reversing the priorities so that the signing of a peace treaty between the United States and North Korea may take precedence over the denuclearization itself.
North Korea insists that it cannot renounce the nuclear weapons until a peace was signed with the United States, since now between the two countries there is still a state of belligerence after the war in the 1950s.
All countries in the region of east Asia are interested in making sure that the nuclear arsenal of Korean does not fall into wrong hands after the demise of the dictator.
Last year, Kim Jong-il was able to impose Kim Jong-eun as his heir apparent, a very important move in the power structure of the Communist country, and a precautionary measure considering that the health condition of the president is poor and a change of leadership could occur at any time.
Even so, China, Japan and South Korea are concerned that soon after Kim Jong-il’s death a struggle for power will erupt and that there is no indication of who may win. It is for this reason that the six-party talks are so important, on condition that the North Korean regime be serious about them this time.11