TITLE=NORTH KOREA / RUSSIA (L-ONLY)
BYLINE=HYUN SUNG KHANG
INTRO: Russia's Foreign Minister is visiting North
Korea, where he is expected to sign a new friendship
pact. As Hyun-Sung Khang reports from the South
Korean capital, Seoul it is the first high-level visit
from Moscow to the North in a decade
TEXT: The two-day visit by Igor Ivanov is an attempt
at healing bilateral ties between Moscow and
Pyongyang. The Russian Foreign Minister is expected
to sign a new friendship pact that, Russia's Itar-Tass
news agency says, will open a new page in relations
between the two countries.
The new agreement will replace a Soviet-era pact
signed shortly after fighting with South Korean and U-
S-led troops of the United Nations ended in 1953. The
agreement promised mutual military aid.
South Korean officials say the new treaty will rule
out a Russian pledge to defend the North in case of
The Itar-Tass news agency said Foreign Minister Ivanov
was also carrying a message from acting Russian
President, Vladimir Putin to North Korean leader, Kim
Jong-Il. It added that Mr. Ivanov would discuss the
political situation on the Korean peninsula and
Russia's fears about the spread of nuclear weapons.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman is reported as
saying that Mr. Ivanov would seek North Korea's
support for a global system of control over missiles
and weapons technology. He added that both Moscow and
Pyongyang are opposed to the creation of an anti-
missile defense system in Asia.
His remarks appear to be directed at plans by Japan
and the United States to set up a new missile defense
system in the region.
Russia and North Korea are long-time allies. Russia
backed North Korea during the Korean War, and during
the Cold War Moscow buttressed the reclusive state
with oil and aid.
But relations between Moscow and Pyongyang have cooled
in recent years. The collapse of the Soviet bloc has
had severe economic repercussions in North Korea and
ties were strained after Moscow established diplomatic
relations with South Korea in 1990. South Korea is
one of Russia's major trading partners.
Following his two-day stop in North Korea, Mr. Ivanov
is to visit Japan and Vietnam. (SIGNED)
09-Feb-2000 11:58 AM EDT (09-Feb-2000 1658 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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