The reclusive leader of North Korea Kim Jong-il has made a rare visit to Russia to convene with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on a number of subjects, including Pyongyang's nuclear program and a business deal between the two countries.
The meeting took place in Khasan, in the mountains of Siberia and represented Kim’s first visit to Russia in almost ten years. (Khasan is just across the border from North Korea).
Russia media reported that Kim said he is prepared to cease nuclear testing, subject to the resumption of six-party talks on denuclearization.
Kim Jong-il expressed readiness to return to six-party talks without preconditions, said Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova.
In the course of the talks the North Koreans will be ready to resolve the issue of imposing a moratorium on testing and production of missile and nuclear weaponry.
Kim and Medvedev also discussed the possible construction of a pipeline that would cross through North Korea into South Korea.
Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, has reportedly for contemplated establishing such a pipeline that would extend at least 1,000 miles.
Media in South Korean said the deal could be valued at up to $100-million in transit handling fees for desperately poor North Korea.
BBC also speculates that a pipeline project of this magnitude would also give North Korea unofficial control of an important energy supply route – much to the consternation of officials in Seoul.
There are also speculations that Kim, whose country desperately needs aid, investment and food, may be trying to cozy up to Russia after a trip to China turned out less than he had hoped for.
In fact, just prior to Kim’s arrival, Moscow said it would ship 50,000 tons of wheat to Pyongyang.