Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian president, has begun a summit meeting with visiting North Korean leader Kim Jong il.
The Kremlin says the talks at a military base near the remote Siberian city of Ulan-Ude will focus on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and boosting economic cooperation.
The North Korean leader is expected to appeal for economic aid for his impoverished country.
Kim's visit to Russia - his first in nine years - has been surrounded by secrecy and tight security.
Al Jazeera's Harry Smith reports.