President Lee departs for Russia and G-20 SummitPresident Lee Myung-bak left for Russia yesterday for talks with President Dmitri Medvedev on the North Korean nuclear standoff and a project to build a gas pipeline linking the two countries via the communist North.
The visit to Russia’s second-largest city of Saint Petersburg is part of a two-nation trip that will also take Lee to the French city of Cannes for this year’s Group of 20 Summit, which will aim at tackling global economic uncertainties amid the euro zone debt crisis.
It will be Lee’s third visit to Russia, the most by a South Korean president.
That reflects the significance Lee attaches to a key stakeholder on Korean Peninsula issues. Moscow holds permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council and is a member of the six-party talks on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
“Russia is an important strategic partner that we need to communicate with whenever there is an opportunity. Economically as well, South Korea-Russia relations have been developing rapidly,” a senior presidential secretary said.
The North’s nuclear standoff and inter-Korean ties will “naturally get on the agenda,” he said.
Lee’s summit with Medvedev on Wednesday comes as South Korea and the United States have been holding bilateral negotiations with North Korea to get the communist nation to take concrete denuclearization steps before restarting the broader nuclear talks.
Lee and Medvedev are also expected to discuss an ambitious project to build a transnational pipeline to transport Russian natural gas to South Korea via the communist North. The project has drawn media attention because it could help reduce tensions on the divided peninsula.