VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il toured a Russian hydro-electric power plant in eastern Russia Sunday in a run-up to a request for aid, the Korea Times reported.
Kim's communist government is under intense international pressure to abandon its nuclear agenda of using power generation as a means of producing atomic weapons. North Korea is also undergoing a food shortage due to summer flooding.
The 70-year-old leader chose not to fly to Russia, but rather traveled north on Saturday in an armored 17-car train that also transported his armored Mercedes limousine, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Kim is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin within days in the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.
The Korea Times said one of Kim's foremost goals is determining how much North Korea could earn in tariffs by allowing a pipeline of Russian natural gas to flow through its territory into South Korea.
Russia is one of North Korea's largest political allies and along with China, the two countries have offset international attempts at reining in its nuclear power and weapons development.