North Korea Ready to Stop Nuclear Testing, Resume Talks
North Korea is ready to consider stopping nuclear text if six-party talks are resumed, stated leader Kim Jong-il on a rare visit to Russia.
Since Saturday, Kim has been in the Russian Far East and Siberia, and has met Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, with whom he held cordial talks.
According to information released from the Russian side, the North is ready to unconditionally resume negotiations and temporarily freeze its nuclear program.
Among other important matters discussed by the two were plans for a natural gas pipeline that would pass through the North's territory to South Korea.
Russian gas giant Gazprom is reportedly very interested in the pipeline, which might bring some USD 100 M of transit fees for the impoverished North Korea.
Kim and Medvedev met at a military base, near Siberia's eastern mountains, some 5,550 km east of Moscow.
"Talks were frank and substantial," according to a Medvedev spokesperson.
Kim Jong-il's visit comes at a time when his country has been more outspoken about the need of foreign aid and investment.
Recently, the Korean leader also visited China, another country with which he has held friendly relations.
The itinerary for the visit, which is expected to last about a week, has largely been kept secret because of Kim's concerns for his personal safety, writes the BBC.
During his first few days in Russia, Mr Kim is reported to have visited a dam north of Vladivostock, taken a swim in the waters of Lake Baikal, and toured a Soviet-era aviation plant.