Speculation is running high in the international media that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may sit down with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Japan’s Kyodo News expects the summit to take place on Thursday, June 30th in the Far East city of Vladivostok while other reports say July 1st. Media reports have also quoted Russian officials as saying preparations are underway for a summit, though Medvedev’s counterpart was not disclosed. President Medvedev is reportedly set to be in Vladivostok to check on preparations for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.
If realized, it would be the first time in nine years the North Korean leader traveled to Russia for a summit with its Cold War ally with whom relations have frayed over the years.
Korea watchers are closely following Kim’s reported travel plans because the expected summit would come on the heels of a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on June 24th during which the allies reaffirmed that inter-Korea relations must be improved before the resumption of Six Party Talks. Seoul officials say that since the envisioned inter-Korean denuclearization discussion has been delinked from seeking an apology for the sinking of the Cheonan and shelling of Yeongpyeong Island, it is now Pyongyang’s turn to come forward.
It is highly anticipated that economic issues would top the expected Pyongyang-Moscow summit, but would still have implications on the Six Party diplomatic front.