MOSCOW — The first foreign politician to meet North Korea's Kim Jong Il in years said the Communist leader was ready to invite foreign guests to celebrate his formal ascension to power, a Russian news report said.
Kim met with Oleg Shenin, chairman of Russia's Council of the Union of Communist Parties, on Sept. 2 in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Itar-Tass news agency reported Friday.
Shenin reportedly was the first foreigner to meet Kim in more than 10 years. Kim's last known contact with the outside world was in 1983, when he visited China.
Confirming Western analysts' predictions, the Russian official said Kim was expected to be officially named supreme leader of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party on Friday, the anniversary of the party's founding.
During their meeting, Kim admitted to his nation's food crisis, which he said had worsened after two years of floods and last summer's drought, Shenin said.
Kim has controlled the country as supreme commander in chief of the military but has yet to take over as party leader and state president, posts left vacant by the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994.
Shenin said Kim's elevation to the state presidency would coincide with celebrations next year to mark the 50th anniversary of North Korea's founding.
In July, North Korea declared an end to the three-year mourning period for the elder Kim, paving the way for his son's succession. Some analysts have attributed the delayed succession in part to the dire food shortages.