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North Korean leader’s special envoy begins visit to Russia

November 17, 2014, 13:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian-North Korean relations, in particular, their trading and economic segment, acquired a new dimension over the past few months
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Choe Ryong-hae

Choe Ryong-hae

© AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

MOSCOW, November 15. /TASS/. The North Korean diplomacy is getting increasingly active on the Russian track again. For a third time this year, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is sending a senior envoy to Moscow. A member of the Politburo Presidium and Secretariat of the Workers’ Party of Korea Choe Ryong-hae is beginning a seven-day visit to Russia on Monday.

Last February, Russia welcomed the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong-nam and last October (after a four-year-old pause), Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has specified the details of Choe’s visit to Russia.

“There will be three sets of issues on the agenda, as far as I understand,” he said. “Firstly, the nuclear program. To be more precise, the outlook for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Secondly, security in the north-east of Asia in the broader context, because there are quite a few problems. Besides, there is the topic of bilateral relations between Moscow and Pyongyang, which, as far as I understand, have gained certain momentum of late.”

Russian-North Korean relations, in particular, their trading and economic segment, acquired a new dimension over the past few months. Russia has written off North Korea’s debt and there are plans for building up bilateral trade to a level of $1 billion by 2020. This figure may look overstated at first sight, but the expected value of Russian companies’ projects in North Korea is several-fold greater. The Pobeda (Victory) project for the upgrade of North Korean railways by a group of investors from Russia in exchange for access to that country’s natural resources is estimated at $25 billion. Also on the agenda are specific joint plans for projects in energy and agriculture.

Also, two parties have begun mutual settlements in the Russian ruble. A Business Council will be established within the framework of the inter-government commission.

However, as the Russian Foreign Ministry said, the unsettled nuclear problem of North Korea remains a brake on cooperation.

The outlook for a resumption of six-party talks on this topic is an acute issue requiring a frank discussion, Moscow believes.

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