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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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