North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was reported to have traveled on Tuesday to the Russian city of Ulan-Ude for talks on his nation's nuclear program and other issues with President Dmitry Medvedev, according to the Associated Press (see GSN, Aug. 22).
The Kim-Medvedev summit is slated to occur on Wednesday, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Kim last traveled to Russia in 2002. This month's visit is primarily focused on exploring areas for bilateral energy collaboration, though discussion is expected on the status of the paralyzed six-nation nuclear talks that involve China, Japan, Russia, the United States and both Koreas.
Pyongyang would like to see the aid-for-denuclearization talks relaunched as quickly as possible, while Seoul, Tokyo and Washington are refusing to return to the negotiating table until the North takes concrete actions to demonstrate its commitment to lasting nuclear disarmament. The Kremlin's position on whether there should be preconditions to resuming the six-party talks is not clear. China backs a speedy resumption of negotiations.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Moscow, as "a partner in the six-party talks" holds the same opinion as the other participants: "In order to get back to the talks, we need an improvement in North-South relations, and we need the (North) to show concrete steps toward denuclearization."
"One would hope and expect that if we have the leader in Russia, that these points are being made to him," Nuland continued (Vasilyeva/Kim, Associated Press/Time, Aug. 23).
Traveling with Kim in Russia this week are a retinue of nuclear envoys and other officials, the New York Times reported (Choe/Schwirtz, New York Times, Aug. 22).