`North Korean leader to visit Russia this week`

North Korea and Russia are in final talks to arrange the summit in Vladivostok on Friday.

Pyongyang: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is expected to visit Russia to meet President Dmitry Medvedev later this week, a Japanese newspaper reported on Tuesday.

North Korea and Russia are in final talks to arrange the summit in Vladivostok on Friday, Japan`s Mainichi Shimbun daily reported, citing multiple intelligence sources in Moscow.

It would be Kim`s first visit to the Cold War ally since 2002, when he met then president Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, the report said.

During the visit, North Korea is expected to seek economic assistance from its powerful neighbour while Russia hopes to bolster ties with the communist state in the interest of regional security, the Mainichi said.

Russia, which has called for an early resumption of six-way nuclear disarmament talks with the two Koreas, the United States, China and Japan, is also expected to discuss the issue with the North Korean leader, it said.

The two leaders will likely talk about bilateral economic cooperation, including construction of gas pipelines and railroads linking the Siberian railway and the Korean Peninsula, the Mainichi said.

Kim, known to dislike air travel due to security concerns, is expected to cross the North Korean-Russian border aboard his special train by Friday, the report said.

South Korea`s top diplomat said earlier he had no information on the possibility of Kim`s first overseas visit since his May trip to China, Yonhap news agency reported.

Bureau Report

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