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North Korean Leader Arrives in St. Petersburg - 2001-08-06


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has arrived Monday in St. Petersburg following his weekend meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The stopover comes at the midway point of the North Korean leader's trip which began 11 days ago.

Mr. Kim is to tour factories and cultural sites in Russia's second city before returning to Moscow and beginning the long train trip back home. The official portion of the visit lasted only a day. Mr. Kim's 21-car armored train arrived in Moscow Friday night and he held talks with President Putin the next day. The discussions highlighted renewed strategic ties between the two former ideological allies.

The North Korean and Russian leaders signed an official statement at the end of the Kremlin summit Saturday pledging that both countries want to contribute to world peace. The document says that North Korea's missile development program does not threaten any country that respects its sovereignty. The document also says both sides support the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that bans missile defense systems.

The United States has said it would withdraw from the ABM pact, if it conflicted with development of a missile shield.

Mr. Putin told reporters that North Korea intends to continue a moratorium on missile tests until 2003.

Most analysts here believe Russia wanted to send a message to Washington that fears about North Korea's nuclear ambitions are unfounded. The United States considers North Korea a rogue state and one of the main reasons a missile defense system is necessary.

On Sunday, seven protesters were detained by police for holding an unauthorized demonstration outside the North Korean embassy in Moscow. They were protesting the Kremlin's ties with the Stalinist government in Pyongyang and potential arms deals.

The South Korean government reacted favorably to the Kim visit believing, as some analysts here do, that Mr. Putin had encouraged Mr. Kim to restart the stalled talks with Seoul.

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