MOSCOW, September 29. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to South Korea under safe sanitary and epidemiological measures in regard to the ongoing global spread of the novel coronavirus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
"A regular political dialogue between our countries is in place, including at the summit level," Lavrov told Yonhap in an interview dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Russia. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in paid an official visit to Russia in June 2018 and invited Putin to visit South Korea.
"One of the most important events was an official visit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in between June 21 and 23, 2018," Lavrov continued.
"We intend to consider plans of a possible visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to South Korea after the [global] sanitary and epidemiological situation normalizes," the top Russian diplomat stated.
Lavrov also said that South Korea is one of the key trade and economic partners of Russia around the globe.
"The volume of our bilateral trade is about to reach the figure of $25 billion," Lavrov stated. "We pay particular attention to our cooperation within the Russian-Korean Interregional Forum, which is set to convene for its 3rd session next year in South Korea."
The Russian foreign minister also said that the situation on the Korean Peninsula remained relatively stable in view of negotiations of all interested parties.
"The situation regarding the Korean Peninsula remains relatively stable, while all involved countries speak for maintaining negotiations," the Russian foreign minister said adding that Russia always stood for the negotiating process on the settlement of all issues on the Korean Peninsula, including the controversial nuclear issue.
"We have always supported all efforts of Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington on the normalization of relations between South and North Koreas as well as between the United States and North Korea and provided assistance to partners regarding their constructive initiatives," Lavrov said.
In early June, North Korea blew up its joint liaison office with Seoul in Kaesong calling it a countermeasure to the distribution of propaganda leaflets by a South Korean non-government organization. Later, North Korea again heightened tensions, practically refusing to implement the inter-Korean military agreements in the border regions.
Pyongyang announced plans to deploy troops in Kumgangsan and Kaesong, reinstate security posts in the most dangerous areas of the demilitarized zone that were previously taken down in accordance with agreements with Seoul, as well as restart all kinds of military drills near the border with the South. Later, the Korean Central News Agency reported that Pyongyang had intended to send 12 mln propaganda leaflets to South Korea. However, on June 24, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave orders to postpone the implementation of this plan
The Russian minister also said that the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries also coincided with the "Year of Mutual Exchange between Russia and South Korea in 2020."
"Unfortunately, we had to postpone numerous events within this project due to the novel coronavirus," he said. "However, we still hope to organize these events in 2021."
South Korea is currently 79th among other countries in terms of confirmed novel coronavirus cases, which exceed the figure of 23,660. The COVID-19 death toll in the country stands at 406. More than 21,290 patients have been reported to recover from the virus.
Global coronavirus crisis
In late December 2019, Chinese officials informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 33,519,160 people have been infected worldwide and more than 1,005,530 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 24,851,960 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.
To date, 1,159,573 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 945,920 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest data indicates 20,385 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.