Lee to stop in Russia en route to G-20 in Cannes

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Lee to stop in Russia en route to G-20 in Cannes

President Lee Myung-bak will visit Russia next week to discuss bilateral cooperation, and then move on to France to attend the Group of 20 Summit, the Blue House said yesterday.

Lee will have a summit with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Nov. 2 in St. Petersburg to discuss efforts to strengthen the two countries’ strategic cooperative partnership and ways to modernize the Russian economy.

The project to supply Russia’s natural gas to South Korea by building a pipeline through North Korea is expected to be discussed. Conceived in 2007 during Lee’s first summit with Medvedev in Moscow, the ambitious and controversial project has seen little headway until recently.

The progress suddenly accelerated after North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Russia in August and met with Medvedev.

Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, said last month that it signed a memorandum of understanding with the North to build a gas transmission system on the Korean Peninsula.

Before becoming president, Medvedev was chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors from 2000 to 2008.

Security issues such as North Korea’s nuclear arms programs and next year’s Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul will also be discussed.

Next week’s trip will be Lee’s third visit to Russia, the most for a Korean president.

Following the visit to Russia, Lee will fly to Cannes, France, to attend the G-20 Summit, where leaders of the world’s 20 major economies will discuss cooperative measures to fight the euro zone crisis and coordinate policies to foster global economic recovery. Discussions on global governance and reform of the international monetary system are also on the agenda.

As part of efforts to enhance a global financial safety net during financial market turbulence, the Korean government is pushing for a global currency swap operation at the G-20 Summit.

The program is designed to allow central banks from different nations to exchange their currencies in the event of liquidity crunches.

Before the G-20 Summit, scheduled to take place on Nov. 3 and 4, Lee will also attend a summit of business leaders and give a keynote speech.

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