DATE=2/9/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=NORTH KOREA / RUSSIA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-258971 BYLINE=HYUN SUNG KHANG DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 war. 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) NEB/HSK/GC/RAE 09-Feb-2000 11:58 AM EDT (09-Feb-2000 1658 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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