North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrives in Russia for summit with Vladimir Putin

Sean Morrison

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Russia for a much-anticipated summit with the nation’s president Vladimir Putin.

Mr Kim left Pyongyang on his private train with top government and military officials, according to North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Russian news agency Tass quoted a local official as saying Mr Kim was given flowers, bread and salt at the Hasan train station after crossing the border today.

Preparations for the meeting in Vladivostok, a Russia city on the Pacific, were held in secrecy because of North Korean security concerns, Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov said.

Mr Ushakov said the talks would focus on the standoff over the North's nuclear programme, noting that Russia will seek to "consolidate the positive trends" stemming from US president Donald Trump's meetings with Mr Kim.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un departs to visit Russia (REUTERS)

He will be the first North Korean leader to travel to Russia since his late father, Kim Jong Il, visited in 2011.

Mr Kim has had two summits with Mr Trump, but the latest in Vietnam in February collapsed because North Korea wanted more relief from sanctions than Washington was willing to give for the amount of nuclear disarmament offered by Pyongyang.

Some experts say Mr Kim could try to bolster his country's ties with Russia and China as he has increasingly expressed frustration at the lack of US steps to match the partial disarmament moves he took last year.

It is not clear how big of a role Russia can play in efforts to restart the nuclear diplomacy. But the summit could allow Mr Putin to try to increase his influence in regional politics and the standoff over North Korea's nuclear programme.

Mr Putin's adviser added that the Kremlin would try to help "create preconditions and a favourable atmosphere for reaching solid agreements on the problem of the Korean Peninsula”.

He pointed at a Russia-China roadmap that offered a step-by-step approach to solving the nuclear standoff and called for sanctions relief and security guarantees to Pyongyang.

Mr Ushakov said the Putin-Kim summit's agenda will also include bilateral cooperation.

He added that Russia's trade with North Korea is minuscule at just 34 million dollars (£26.3m) last year, mostly because of the international sanctions against Pyongyang.

Agencies contributed to this report