A smiling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in the Russian city of Vladivostok on ahead of a summit later Thursday with President Vladimir Putin.
The armoured VIP train carrying Mr Kim on his first official visit to Russia pulled into the station on the Vladivostok quayside a few hours after crossing from North Korea into Russia.
The talks with Mr Putin are aimed at mustering international support for the reclusive, Marxist nation while nuclear talks with Washington are in limbo.
Mr Kim was presented with the traditional welcome gift of bread and salt on his arrival in Russia and was greeted bay honour guards during a ceremony at the railway station
Kim told Russian state television shortly after crossing into Russia that he was hoping for useful and successful discussions with Mr Putin.
“I hope that we can discuss concrete questions about peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula, and our bilateral relations,” he said through an interpreter.
Mr Kim will hold his first ever formal discussions with Mr Putin later Thursday at a university campus on an island just off Vladivostok, with the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear program topping the agenda.
The meeting comes two months after a summit in Vietnam between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump ended in failure, leaving the North Korean leader to look elsewhere to seek international support and relief from sanctions.
For Mr Putin, the summit is an opportunity to show that his country remains a major global player despite being under sanctions over its intervention in Ukraine and allegations that it meddled in US elections.
Analysts predicted that Mr Kim is unlikely to emerge from the summit with any substantial promises of relief from sanctions.
The summit is likely to instead focus more on demonstrating camaraderie.