Image: Dmitry Medvedev, Kim Jong Il
Dmitry Astakhov  /  RIA Novosti via AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, left, listens to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a meeting at a military garrison outside Ulan-Ude on Wednesday.
updated 8/24/2011 3:14:22 AM ET 2011-08-24T07:14:22

After a "fun trip" across Siberia on his armored train, North Korea's autocratic leader Kim Jong Il met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday for talks expected to focus on nuclear disarmament, energy deals and economic aid.

The summit takes place at a military garrison outside Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, some 3,000 miles east of Moscow.

Kim arrived at the base in an armored Mercedes limousine and wore his trademark khaki leisure suit. He thanked Medvedev for flying from the Black Sea port of Sochi to meet him.

"When it comes to meetings with our partners, neighbors, it's not that far," Medvedev said.

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"Thanks to your special attention and care, Mr. President, we're having a fun trip," Kim replied through a translator.

Kim's custom-built train has rolled across sections of eastern Russia in a trip that began Saturday. He is expected to start his return trip home "immediately" after the talks, the Itar-Tass news agency said.

It is Kim's first visit to Russia since 2002.

Story: All aboard the armored train: North Korea's Kim Jong Il visits Russia

The Kremlin said the leaders will discuss how to quickly resume long-stalled six-nation talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program in return for aid.

Another likely topic would be Moscow's proposal to build a pipeline through the North's territory that would allow Russia to stream natural gas to South Korea. North Korea, long reluctant, has recently shown interest in the project, South Korea officials said.

Image: Kim Jong Il in Russia
Port Amur  /  AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, is welcomed with bread and salt in front of his armored train upon his arrival at the Bureya railway station, eastern Siberia, on Sunday.

Seoul has expressed hope that negotiations on the project will make progress.

"One of the pressing themes on the agenda will be prospects for launching tripartite economic projects with the participation of Russia, South Korea and North Korea," the Kremlin statement said.

Also under discussion is an energy project that would involve the extension of power lines to make it possible for Russia to sell electricity from plants like the Bureya hydroelectric plant that Kim visited at the start of his trip.

Kim's Russian trip comes as his country pushes to restart the aid-for-disarmament talks. Seoul and Washington have demanded that the North first show its sincerity on fulfilling past nuclear commitments.

The Korean peninsula has seen more than a year of tension during which the North shelled a South Korean island and allegedly torpedoed a South Korean warship.

Story: Is South ready for rise of North Korean defections?

North Korea is pushing for outside aid ahead of an important national anniversary next year. Kim has promised his 24 million people that he will build a "powerful, prosperous" nation to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of his father and North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung.

Last month, North Korean diplomats separately met U.S. and South Korean officials to discuss the resumption of the talks, which have been stalled for more than two years. The negotiations involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

The itinerary for Kim's visit, expected to last about a week, has been largely kept secret because of worries about security from North Korea. A few people managed to take photos of Kim during his visit to the hydroelectric plant on Sunday, but heavy police cordons kept the media and onlookers in Ulan-Ude away from the train station and the adjacent square.

On Tuesday, Kim's motorcade headed for a picturesque village on the shores of Baikal, a huge freshwater lake.

Kim took a two-hour Baikal tour on a yacht guarded by two North Korean boats, the Inform Polis Online website reported, quoting eyewitness accounts. Cruising the waters, Kim recollected that his father visited the lake in July 1961, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported from Pyongyang.

Slideshow: The life of Kim Jong ll (on this page)

The water in Baikal is ice-cold even in summertime, so Kim decided to take a swim onshore, in a pool filled with Baikal water.

The speaker of Buryatia's legislature joined Kim in the swim, the Inform Polis Online website reported.

Kim said the lake is "the pride of the Russian people and underscored the need to preserve it and surrounding natural environment well," according to KCNA.

On shore, the North Korean leader was treated to traditional Buryat food, including meat dumplings and Baikal fish prepared over an open fire.

Later Tuesday, Kim went back to Ulan-Ude to visit a major aircraft factory, which among other things produces Sukhoi attack planes, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported from the plant.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Kim Jong Il through the years

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  1. Happy family

    Kim Jong Il as a child with his father Kim Il Sung and first wife Kim Jong Suk. (Noboru Hashimoto / Corbis Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Young student

    A1963 photo from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Il when he was a student of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. With his friends

    Kim Jong Il, second person from right, takes part of a souvenir picture with his friends in this undated photo. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Official business

    In his young days working at the Central Committee of WPK (Worker's Party of Korea). (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Training exercise

    Kim Jong Il leads the firearms training of the February 2nd National Sport Defense team members while he was working at the Central Committee of WPK (Worker's Party of Korea). (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Meeting with farmers

    Kim Jong Il talks with farmers when he was in the Central Committee, May 21, 1971. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Test drive

    Kim Jong Il takes a test drive of a play equipment combat plane in Taesong amusement park, Pyongyang in North Korea,Oct. 2, 1977. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Filmmaking

    Kim Jong Il gives advice at the shooting of "An Jung Geun Avenges Hirobumi Ito," a narrative film. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Father and son

    Kim Jong Il was anointed successor to his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1980. Known as the "Great Leader," Kim Il Sung and his son are shown attending a Korean Worker's Party convention in October of that year. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Family portrait

    Kim Jong Il, bottom left, poses memebers of his family in this 1981 photo in Pyongyang, North Korea. Sitting at right is his son, Jong-Nam, Kim's sister-in-law Sung Hye-Rang stands at top left with her daughter Lee Nam-Ok, center and son Lee Il-Nam, top right. While virtually nothing is known about the leader's personal life, an attempt by his first-born son Kim Jong Nam, bottom right, to enter Japan on a false passport in May, 2001, briefly shone a light onto his family's private dealings. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Applause please

    Kim Jong Il meets with Korean People's Army personnel in this Sept., 1988, photo. North Korea is believed to be the most heavily militarized country in the world on a per capita basis. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Like father, like son

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il stands next to his father, Kim Il Sung, inspecting a football field in Pyongyang. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Silent famine

    Residents of Taziri, North Korea, wait for Red Cross food supplies in December 1995, not long after the death of Kim Il Sung left Kim Jong Il in control of the country. At the time, around 130,000 North Koreans were reportedly on the brink of famine and 500,000 were homeless. (Calvi Parisetti / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Kim looking at things

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il inspects cucumbers harvested inside the 770th army base near Nyon Won power plant in Pyonan-Namdo. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Frenemies?

    South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, right, hugs North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at the end of their summit meeting at the airport in Pyongyang, North Korea. The two leaders held historic talks for three days in June 2000. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A visitor from Russia

    Kim Jong Il walks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, as he arrived in Pyongyang in July 2000 for talks on halting North Korea's missile-development program. (Itar-tass / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Toasting the U.S.

    Kim Jong Il toasts U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a dinner in Pyongyang in October 2000. The visit was part of an coordinated effort by Washington and its allies South Korea and Japan to end the country's isolation. (Chien-min Chung / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A giant leader

    A portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il displayed at an entrance of the foreign ministry in Pyongyang August 2002. (Shingo Ito / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Welcoming Japan

    Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, left, shakes hands with Kim Jong Il after signing a joint statement at the end of a one-day summit in Pyongyang on Sept. 17, 2002. North Korea admitted to kidnapping Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s and using them to train spies. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Crowds in the square

    In January 2003, more than one million people gathered on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to hear political leaders hail North Korea's dramatic decision to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Tearful goodbyes

    Emotional South Koreans bid farewell to their North Korean families following a brief reunion in July 2004. The families were separated by the border that was imposed after fighting ended in 1953. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. X marks the spot

    A South Korean protester holds a picture of Kim Jong Il marked with a cross during a rally in Seoul on July 7, 2006. Demonstrators denounced Pyongyang's test-firing of seven missiles. (Lee Jin-man / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Wining and dining

    South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun joins Kim Jong Il at a farewell lunch in Pyongyang on Oct. 4, 2007, after the two sides signed a pledge to seek a peace treaty to replace the 54-year-old cease-fire that ended the Korean War. With no treaty in place, the two countries technically are still at war. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Military matters

    Kim Jong Il visits a military unit in this picture released by North Korea's official news agency on Aug. 11, 2008. It was Kim's last public appearance before intelligence officials suggested he had fallen gravely ill. (KCNA / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. In the public eye again

    In this image taken from North Korea's KRT state television, Kim Jong II attends the first session of the Supreme People's Assembly on April 9, 2009, in Pyongyang. It was his first major public appearance since reportedly suffering a stroke in August 2008. (APTN) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Paying his respects

    A gaunt-looking Kim Jong Il, sitting center in the front row, is surrounded by high-ranking officials during a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of his father's death on July 8, 2009. Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea, remains known as the country's"eternal president." (KCNA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Visit from Clinton

    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, meets with Kim Jong Il, left front, in Pyongyang on Aug. 4, 2009. North Korea pardoned and released two detained U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, after the meeting. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Calling on a cotton farm

    Kim Jong Il inspects a cotton plant farm of the Korean People's Army's 1596 unit on Nov. 29, 2009. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Meet-and-greet

    Kim Jong Il waves as people including soldiers applaud during a visit to the construction site of the Kumyagang Army-People Power Station in South Hamgyong Province in an undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency in August, 2010. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. China visit

    Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, meets with Kim Jong Il in Changchun, in northeast China's Jilin province, on Aug. 27, 2010. (Ju Peng / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Likely heir

    North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il, seated at center in sunglasses, and his youngest son Kim Jong Un, seated at left, pose for a photo with the newly elected members of the central leadership body of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the participants in the WPK Conference, at the plaza of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency on Sept. 30, 2010. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il anointed his youngest son as successor this week, promoting him to senior political and military positions. (KCNA via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (2nd L) and his youngest son Kim Jong Un (3rd R from Kim Jong-il) visit the cemetery for Chinese soldiers who died during the 1950-53 Korean War in Hoechang County, North Korea, Oct. 26, 2010, in this picture released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency. (KCNA / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, right, and his son Kim Jong Un attend a massive military parade to mark the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea on Oct. 10, 2010. Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Pass in review

    Kim Jong Il attends a military parade to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Pyongyang on September 9, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A tearful announcer dressed in black announces the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong il on North Korean State Television on Dec. 19, 2011. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died on a train trip, state television reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program. The announcer said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance". (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen inside a glass coffin as people pay their respects, Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 20, 2011. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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    Above: Slideshow (36) The life of Kim Jong ll - Kim Jong Il through the years
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    Slideshow (7) Daily life in North Korea
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    Slideshow (53) Journey into North Korea

Video: Photos show possible advances in N. Korea nuclear program

  1. Closed captioning of: Photos show possible advances in N. Korea nuclear program

    >>> have heard this north korea threatened the south with nuclear war yesterday and, of course, that raises the question, does the north have nuclear weapons ? in an exclusive interview with the scientific observer who was shocked add what he found in north korea last month, richard lui gets his personal views and also saw some pictures that few have seen. dr. siegfried heckert first trip to north korea was 2004 .

    >> i actually wound up in a conference room in the reprocessing acilitfacility.

    >> reporter: six more times he made that trip, taking his own pictorial log. after number seven, he says what nobody wants to hear, north korea can now help create new north koreas. nations with nuclear capability that wouldn't hesitate to use it against the u.s. iran could be one of them. first because north korea despite under sanctions is able to export millions of dollars of arms annually says this u.s. report. as a document from wikileaks shows, that could include missile technology and then november's shocking new find.

    >> the north korean technology that i saw is ahead of iran's.

    >> reporter: last year he snapped this picture. this year he sees 2,000 as he calls it, beautiful centrifuges as his mock up shows here.

    >> it was really quite stunning to see that because i simply didn't expect them to have this sophistication and this scale of facility.

    >> reporter: and they built it in one year, almost impossible to do. this is the nuclear site in 2009 and then in 2010 . but there could be more.

    >> there's another facility of some size still operating.

    >> reporter: perhaps making bomb fuel, he says.

    >> the past facilities i've been in, the equipment, especially the control equipment is old style, sort of '50s america style.

    >> reporter: but the new control room --

    >> what you would see in a good facility today in the united states .

    >> reporter: he talks openly about what he sees.

    >> the north koreans expect me to do that because that's the way they can actually have an effect.

    >> reporter: an effect on a country that hecker says enough plutonium for four to eight nagasaki-sized bombs.

    >> the message clearly was, look, we have the plutonium and if we have the plutonium, that means zee the ba s they have the bomb. they wanted me to take that message back to the u.s. government and they say north korea has the bomb and they want some respect.

    >> reporter: some ask how we can give respect when you see pictures of hungry north koreans . but despite being under sanctions he sees what a poor country could afford. like this new uranium facility with its blue roof. instead boldly saying, we are here.

    >> richard lui is here now. some very sobering comments from the scientist and you also got to see quite a few photographs that he took, right?

    >> dr. hecker long the way in his last seven visits have snapped some pictures. basically what he is asking in one way sanctions have been happening in recent times, but are they working? let me show you this picture first. this was of a tower that was being built over the course of 20 years. 2009 he and he comes back in 2010 , look at that. done over the last year. we can zoom in closer to see some of the work that was not done and then it was done over the course of one year. another picture for you, 2009 . on the left-hand side i want to show you this, chris. this phone booths , not superman type but phone booths and they have cell phones. not a big deal . what a critic will ask, are sanctions working because they're still able to develop their nuclear functionality and the enrichment process as well as their own economy. in fact, a u.n. report that said that international trade of some $7 billion in 2009 , that is double from the year before. so, the question is, what is the solution to north korea based on its new capability to potentially create more north kore koreas. we care about that here in the united states .

    >> richard lui , thank you so much.

    >>> in italy they took out

Interactive: Meet North Korea’s first family

The North Korean dictatorship established by Kim Il Sung after World War II was taken over by his son Kim Jong Il in the 1990s. Now, as Kim Jong Il’s health fails the power is apparently being formally handed to his eldest son Kim Jung Un. In addition, the Kim family holds dozens of powerful positions throughout the North Korean bureaucracy.


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