‘N Korea`s Kim heads to China after Russia’

A Kremlin official said Pyongyang was ready to impose a moratorium on nuclear testing and processing if the discussions resume.

Moscow: North Korea`s reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il is heading to China after completing rare talks in Siberia with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a regional administration official said on Thursday.

A source in the administration of the Russian region of Chita on China`s border said Kim`s armoured train will travel across its region shortly.

The Chita rail link runs directly to China`s Manchuria area and does not stretch to Russia`s Far East from where Kim originally travelled after crossing the North Korean border on Saturday.

"He will be passing through our region," the Chita administration source told a news agency. "He is not in China yet."

It was not clear whether Kim will stop in China or head directly home.

Kim held talks with Medvedev on Wednesday during which he said that his reclusive state was prepared to renounce nuclear testing and allow transit of a key gas pipeline.

The meeting followed Kim`s four-day train ride through Russia`s Far East and Siberia -- his third visit to the giant neighbour in the last decade but the first since 2002.

"I am full of positive feelings. The meeting was substantive and open," Medvedev said after the meeting.

He told journalists that North Korea supported a planned pipeline to carry Russian gas supplies to South Korea through the North, a route that would allow Moscow to reach new energy-hungry Asian markets.

After a long-lasting freeze in six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear programme, a Kremlin official said Pyongyang was ready to impose a moratorium on nuclear testing and processing if the discussions resume.

South Korea on Thursday gave a cool response to the reported North Korean pledge that it would suspend nuclear testing and processing if multilateral disarmament talks reopened "without preconditions".

"I don`t see any particular progress," Deputy Spokesman Shin Maeng-Ho of the South`s foreign ministry told a news agency.

The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted an unidentified government official as saying that Seoul wanted the six-party talks to resume at an early date.

"But the key is whether the North takes actions for denuclearisation before the talks resume. In that sense, the recent announcement fails to show North Korea`s sincerity in purpose," the official told the daily.

Bureau Report

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