Russian and North Korean leaders start meeting

A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leaderKim Chong-il has started in Vladivostok. The main topic of theirnegotiations will be the construction of the Trans-Korean railroad andlinking it to Russia's Trans-Siberian railroad. Earlier, Putin announced ata meeting devoted to the social and economic development of the Far East ofRussia that China would begin this project unless Russia did it first.According to Putin, Russia should offer North and South Koreas a morebeneficial project and achieve the linking of the Trans-Korean railroad tothe Trans-Siberian one instead of the Chinese Eastern Railroad. "In theevent the Trans-Korean and Trans-Siberian railroads are not linked to eachother, the Far East of Russia will be completely cut off from theinternational turnover of goods and the budget of Russia will lose hundredsof millions of dollars," the Russian President was quoted was saying. Atthe same time, he admitted that Far East ports would suffer certain losses.Nevertheless, these losses will not be as significant as losses to besuffered by Russia in the event it gives up the project..