Journey's end for Kim Jong Il
MOSCOW, Russia -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has arrived in Moscow after a marathon nine-day rail trip across Russia.
Security was tight at Moscow's central rail station and all commuter services were cancelled before the Communist leader's train arrived.
Earlier on Friday security teams with sniffer dogs had searched Yaroslavsky rail terminus after a hoax bomb threat.
Kim, who has previously only left North Korea to visit China, was greeted by Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, RIA news agency reported and is due to meet President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
Kim is expected to return home again by rail beginning next week, rejecting the fast-paced limousine and jet travel favored by the vast majority of modern world leaders.
Like his father, former North Korean leader and now national icon Kim Il Sung, the younger Kim is reported to fear flying.
Behind him lies several thousand kilometers of track and one lengthy stop in Omsk, where he inspected a tank plant and meat processing facilities.
Ahead of him is a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a visit to the aerospace agency's mission control.
Then Kim will make a journey on to St Petersburg, Russia's old imperial capital, before retracing his tracks back along the Trans-Siberian railway.
While the extraordinary ride to Russia has given publicity to the old-world charms of extended train travel, secrecy still surrounds much of the detail and little has been made public of his agenda.
The 21-car armored train carrying the 59-year-old Kim and his entourage was to arrive at the Yaroslavskye Station around 10 p.m. (1800 GMT) Friday night amid tight security.
After his first night in Moscow at the Kremlin guest house, Kim will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
Several important issues will be on the table.
Putin said after visiting North Korea last year that Pyongyang was ready to abandon its missile program if other nations would help it launch civilian satellites.
Russia often launches foreign civilian satellites from its space facilities.
Russian officials said the two leaders are expected to sign a joint declaration on world affairs, with speculation high that this will include near the top their shared opposition to U.S. plans to build a missile defense system.
Washington says it needs a missile shield against threats from "rogue" countries such as North Korea and Iraq. Russia and China are closely allied with North Korea in opposing the U.S. plan.
Kim's stand on the missile issue will be closely watched by Washington, which has yet to receive a formal North Korean response to U.S. President George W. Bush's offer to resume bilateral talks.
The Interfax news agency, quoting unidentified Russian sources, said the Putin-Kim meeting will cover Russian arms sales on favorable terms to North Korea.
But any arms sales are unlikely to be large in scale because of North Korea's limited ability to pay cash, it said.
North Korea's 1.1-million-member military is equipped with Soviet-era weapons. North Korean soldiers who defected to South Korea have said many of those weapons, including tanks, are kept idle because of lack of spare parts.
According to the Associated Press North Korea's shopping list reportedly includes S-300 surface-to-air missiles and T-80 tanks, the main battle tank used by the Soviet Union in the 1980s and currently used by North Korea's military.
And last but not necessarily least, there are trains.
Another possible summit item is Russia's hope to link its Trans-Siberian Railway with North Korea's rail system in a project that may eventually -- if plans for a restored inter-Korean rail link go ahead -- link South Korea directly to Europe.
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