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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N. Korea's nuclear program to top Lavrov's agenda in Seoul

RIA Novosti

01/06/2007 20:08 MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister will visit South Korea June 4-5 where his agenda will be dominated by stalled international negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, a diplomatic spokesman said.

"We support the early removal of all obstacles to the implementation of achieved agreements," Mikhail Kamynin, spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said ahead of Sergei Lavrov's visit.

During talks in February between six negotiators - Russia, the United States, China, North and South Korea, and Japan - North Korea agreed to stop its nuclear reactor and let in international weapons inspectors after it receives its $25-million funds deposited in China's Banco Delta Asia.

Washington unfroze the funds in March but the transfer has been stalled, and the reclusive Communist state delayed shutting down its Yongbyon reactor.

Railway

Another important issue to be addressed during Lavrov's visit is a trilateral project involving Russia, and North and South Korea, to link the Trans-Korean railway to the Trans-Siberian for further transportation to Europe, Kamynin said.

"We are happy to see the interest of South Korean businessmen in the project and find it important to discuss this with the South Korean government, and also in a trilateral format," he said.

On May 17, two trains made historic rail crossings between North and South Korea, the first since the end of the 1951-1953 Korean War.

Trade

Kamynin said trade between South Korea and Russia was growing. "Hopefully, we will exceed last year's figure of $9.3 billion by the end of this year," he said.

The ministry spokesman expressed concerns that Russian exports to South Korea were dominated by raw materials, but added that cooperation could be expanded to other areas.

"We are glad to see good prospects in machine-building, in industrial partnership and high technologies, as well as investment," he said.

Space

Space research is another area of cooperation. In 2008, the first South Korean astronaut will fly to the International Space Station onboard a Russian rocket.

Asia Cooperation Dialogue

In Seoul, Lavrov will attend the sixth round of the 30-nation Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) to discuss practical cooperation in science, technologies, education, culture, energy and transport.

Kamynin said the Russian minister would also have bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Thailand, China, Mongolia and Pakistan on the sidelines of the forum.



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