North envoy has lengthy discussion with Russia

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North envoy has lengthy discussion with Russia

Kim Kye-gwan, the first vice foreign minister of North Korea, had a marathon discussion with Russian officials on Thursday over restarting the so-called six-party talks, while Washington is ratcheting up pressure on North Korea for nuclear disarmament in cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo.

Kim, North Korea’s key negotiator for the nuclear disarmament talks, arrived in Moscow on Wednesday and met with Vladimir Titov, Russia’s first deputy foreign minister and Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

The closed meeting between Kim and the senior Russian officials went on for about five hours, sources told South Korean reporters.

After the talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that they “shared opinions on the current situation and the prospect on development of the bilateral relations” and “discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

They also “underscored joint efforts for creating the atmosphere for fast resumption of the six-party talks based on the principles of the Sept. 19 joint statement in 2005.”

At the fourth round of the six-party talks on Sept. 19, 2005, North Korea promised to abandon all of its nuclear weapons and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in return for receiving 2 million kilowatts of electricity for free from South Korea and crude oil from the international community.

The Russian statement also said both sides agreed that “stability on the Korean Peninsula will boost the Russia-DPRK [North Korea] cooperation and start multilateral, large-scale economic projects.”

Russia has hoped for restarting some suspended joint projects with North Korea, such as building pipelines to supply Russian natural gas to South Korea through North Korea.

Kim made a four-day visit to China, the longtime ally and the biggest economic benefactor of North Korea, between June 18 and 22 and had high-level talks, sources in Beijing told reporters.

His visits to the two allies of the communist regime coincided with the trilateral meeting among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo on June 19, where the allies reached a consensus to impose tougher obligations on North Korea in return for restarting talks with the regime, including a “verifiable denuclearization” of the country.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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