Pipeline project talks set for Nov.

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Pipeline project talks set for Nov.

The two Koreas and Russia will begin discussing in November the construction of a pipeline through North Korea that will supply Russian natural gas to the South, the chairman of the ruling Grand National Party, Hong Joon-pyo, disclosed yesterday.

“The project had been agreed to by South Korea and Russia and also won agreement between the North and Russia,” Hong said in two speeches for Grand National Party members. “Now, the project will be realized after reaching agreement by working-level officials of the three countries.”

The director of the National Intelligence Service, Won Sei-hoon, told the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee earlier this month that North Korea had agreed to the pipeline project. The pipeline was also discussed at North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last week.

Speaking unusually optimistically about the ambitious project, Hong said the pipeline was “a dream of President Lee Myung-bak since he was chief executive of Hyundai Engineering and Construction.”

Hong also said that Lee had pushed forward the project clandestinely since the beginning of his term.

But the Blue House refused to discuss the pipeline project. “I have no information about what Hong’s remarks mean,” said Park Jeong-ha, presidential spokesman.

The project, Hong said, would benefit both Koreas.

“North Korea will benefit from it by receiving the annual passage fee of $100 million,” Hong said, “higher than the earnings from Mount Kumgang tourism and from the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The Russian supply of gas will lower the price of natural gas in South Korea by 20 to 30 percent.”

Saying that the pipeline would open up a new horizon in inter-Korean relations, Hong added that another ambitious project to link the South with the Trans-Siberian Railway via North Korea would also see progress.

The railway project has been pushed forward since the Kim Dae-jung administration.

“Modernizing the North’s railways will cost $2.5 billion, and the South and Russia should think about jointly financing it,” Hong said.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

홍준표 "남북러 11월 가스관 협상”

한나라당 홍준표 대표는 30일 남북 가스관 사업에 대해 “한국과 북한, 러시아 3자가 올 11월쯤이면 협상을 하게 될 걸로 안다”고 밝혔다.

홍 대표는 ‘한나라 인천포럼’ 강연과 ‘홍천 당원연수회 특강’에서 “가스관 사업은 한·러 간에 합의됐고 북·러 간에도 합의돼 이제 3자 실무자들이 모여 합의하면 이뤄진다”며 이같이 말했다.

홍 대표는 “이 사업은 이명박 대통령이 현대건설 CEO를 할 때부터 꿈꾸던 사업이며 집권 초기부터 은밀히 추진해 왔고, 전적으로 대통령의 개인 업적”이라 고 설명했다.

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