Seoul puts pressure on North with Moscow visit

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Seoul puts pressure on North with Moscow visit

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se departed for a three-day trip to Russia on Sunday in a visit expected to enhance coordination with Moscow, putting additional pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

“It has been five months since North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and 100 days since the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution,” Yun told reporters at the airport before departing “This is an opportunity to once again check on bilateral relations with Russia and international cooperation.”

Yun is scheduled to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday, during which they are expected to discuss bilateral relations, trade and economic cooperation issues.

They will also likely exchange views on international and regional problems, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

They are also expected to discuss arranging President Park Geun-hye’s first trip to Russia since she took office.

The visit comes around three months after UN Security Council Resolution 2270, which imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea for its fourth nuclear test and ballistic missile provocations, was implemented in early March.

There is expected to be emphasis on cooperation regarding the sanctions against Pyongyang during this meeting as a part of Seoul’s continued diplomatic efforts to reach out to countries that have maintained friendly links with North Korea.

During his recent visits to Iran, Uganda and Cuba over the past two months, Yun has garnered support in pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile development program.

Most recently, Uganda at the end of last month agreed to cut off military cooperation with Pyongyang.

The last South Korean foreign minister to visit Russia was Kim Sung-hwan in August 2011.

A Korea-Russia political and economic conference is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg Tuesday. Yun is also expected to offer flowers at a monument dedicated to Yi Beom-jin (1852-1911) who resisted Japan’s annexation of Korea by committing suicide and was buried in St. Petersburg. Yi was the first Korean envoy to Russia.

Yun will next head to Sofia later on Tuesday, where he will meet with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov on Wednesday.

This is the first time a South Korean foreign minister will make an official visit to Bulgaria since the forging of bilateral relations between the two countries in 1990.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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