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Russia, N. Korea Hold Summit Talks - 2001-08-04

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged Satureday at summit talks in Moscow to oppose U.S. plans to build an anti-missile defense system. Russia also agreed to provide economic assistance to impoverished North Korea.

The two leaders signed a joint document that they called the "Moscow Declaration," agreeing to cooperate on international issues. One of the key points was critical of the U.S. plan to build a missile defense system.

The United States says it needs such a system for defense against possible attack by countries such as North Korea and Iraq. But in the declaration, Mr. Kim said his country's missile program is only for peaceful purposes.

Before Mr. Kim arrived in Moscow by train on Friday, Kremlin officials had said the controversial issue was not on the agenda of the Kremlin talks.

Mr. Kim said North Korea would continue its missile program, but that no tests would be conducted at least until 2003.

The North Korean leader did not indicate whether he would reopen talks with the U.S. on various issues.

Another point in the declaration is a demand for the United States to withdraw its armed forces stationed in South Korea, calling this a "pressing problem."

A separate document is expected to be signed in which Russia will agree to provide North Korea with substantial economic aid, as well as sales of new weapons to Pyongyang.

Before the Kremlin talks, Mr. Kim laid wreaths at Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as at the mausoleum of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin on Red Square. Officials say the reclusive North Korean leader is the first head of state to honor Lenin since the Soviet era.

Mr. Kim's arrived in Moscow after a nine-day rail journey across Russia's vast territory. The trip had been cloaked in secrecy, and the reclusive North Korean made only two brief appearances en route. His arrival at one of Moscow's main train stations Friday night caused widespread disruption of commuter rail services at the height of the weekend rush hour.

On Sunday, Mr. Kim will visit Russian space facilities outside Moscow, including the factory where it manufactures rockets. He will also travel to St. Petersburg.