Kim Jong Un rode his bulletproof armored train from North Korea to Russia's extreme east for his first-ever meeting with Vladimir Putin
- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia, where he will meet President Vladimir Putin.
- Kim traveled from North Korea to eastern Russia in his family's bulletproof armored train. Russian girls in costume presented him with bread and salt - a traditional welcome for an honored guest.
- Kim and Putin are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear program after similar talks with US President Donald Trump broke down in March.
- Kim told Russian officials, according to The Associated Press: "I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it."
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia in his personal train on Wednesday, ahead of his first-ever meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kim's bulletproof, armored train pulled into eastern Russia on Wednesday. While it's not clear where in North Korea Kim departed from, the journey was likely hundreds of miles.
Kim typically travels in and out of the country by his family's train, which according to past footage is filled with plush pink leather seats, Apple computers, and fine French wine.
The one time Kim traveled out of the country by plane - to meet US President Donald Trump in Singapore last June - he was ridiculed for his apparent reliance on China, since he borrowed it from the Chinese government.
North Korean state media on Wednesday aired footage of Kim boarding at an undisclosed train station. South Korea's Yonhap news agency speculated that Kim left from a rural area, rather than the capital city of Pyongyang, according to The Associated Press.
At the train station Kim walked down a red carpet to board his train. It pulled away as dozens of soldiers, government officials, and civilians saluted, clapped, and waved flowers to bid him goodbye. Kim's departures from and arrivals to North Korea are typically full of this kind of pomp.
It's not clear what time Kim left North Korea on Wednesday. The dark sky in the video suggests that he started his journey early in the morning, as he has done in previous train journeys.
While Kim's route was largely kept secret - as they are for all his foreign travels - he likely traveled across the Druzhny Bridge ("Bridge of Friendship"), which links Russia and North Korea. The bridge is reportedly closed to tourists.
Later on Wednesday Russia's state-run Rossiya-24 TV channel also aired footage of Kim's arrival in Khasan, eastern Russia. Upon leaving his train Kim took off his black fedora hat and was welcomed by Russian girls in traditional clothing.
The recipient is supposed to eat the bread immediately, but Kim had the girls give the bread to the North Korea's consul general in the region instead, Rossiya-24 news channel reported.
Kim also answered questions from Russia's state-owned Rossiya 24 news channel - a rare move from the reclusive leader who previously never spoke to media other than those run by the North Korean state.
Later on Wednesday Kim met with Russian officials before setting off for the southeastern port city of Vladivostok, where he is due to meet Putin on Thursday.
According to The Associated Press, Kim told Russian government officials on Wednesday: "I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it."
"It's been seven years since I took the helm, and I've only just managed to visit," he added.
He also paid tribute to his late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, by mentioning his "great love for Russia" and displaying a photo of him on the table during a meeting.
North Korea experts speculate that she was removed from her high-ranking position after she was left out of an important gathering earlier this month.
At Vladivostok on Thursday, Kim and Putin are expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear program and denuclearization, according to the Kremlin, after Kim's nuclear talks with Trump broke down in March.
Kim will likely also court broader Russian investment into North Korea's infrastructure, and persuade Putin to side with him in the easing of international sanctions, Business Insider Rosie Perper's reported.
Putin, through this summit, is likely seeking to exert more influence in North Korean affairs, which could be seen as a move to rile the US.
Putin, meanwhile, leaves for Beijing on Friday to attend a two-day conference for China's Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to connect dozens of countries with Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.
Kim Jong-un's departure for Russia has just aired on North Korean TV pic.twitter.com/BPjTH3Y38T- BBC Monitoring (@BBCMonitoring) April 24, 2019
Meanwhile Russian TV is leading with Kim's arrival, where he received a traditional welcome of bread and salt. 2/ pic.twitter.com/1gFHd75h1B- BBC Monitoring (@BBCMonitoring) April 24, 2019
If you've ever wondered what Kim Jong-un's everyday speaking voice is like, here you go. We only usually hear him giving a speech over a public address. pic.twitter.com/0zxKHpS2IG- Alistair Coleman (@alistaircoleman) April 24, 2019