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Russia, South Korea Forge Closer Ties for Developing the Far East

June 13, 2016 (EIRNS)—South Korea’s Foreign Minster Yun Byong-se met today with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, pledging to strengthen ties, especially focused on South Korea’s role in the development of the Russian Far East.

"We agreed that there is high potential for bilateral economic cooperation, especially on the Far East," Yun said at a joint press conference, as reported in Yonhap. He added:

"I would like to remind that at today’s meeting we agreed to take to a new level a synergistic effect between the Eurasian Initiative [President Park Geun-Hye’s policy] and the policy of the Far East development."

Lavrov said,

"We are considering Seoul a key partner in the Asia-Pacific region.... Special attention was given to the implementation of large-scale investment projects, saying that the priority development territories created in the Far East, and also the free port Vladivostok provide good opportunities for that,"

stated Lavrov.

"Projects in the sphere of electrical power, oil and gas, port infrastructure, and fishing are at the stage of implementation of advanced planning."

Although the Korean and western press report that the meeting is aimed at tightening the sanctions regime against North Korea, sources in Seoul told EIR that a more positive goal is being discussed. President Park has virtually shut down all relations with North Korea under pressure from Obama, but the fact that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is now almost certain to run for President on the ruling party ticket in next year’s election, on the basis of his intention to resolve the Korea crisis diplomatically, means that Park’s government must at least begin to re-establish some cooperation. In that light, joint South Korean-Russian development in the Russian Far East begs the issue of cooperation with the North, on rail and pipeline development through the North, and on North Korean labor in the Russian projects.

Both Yun and Lavrov said that they will not accept North Korea’s self-designation as a nuclear state, but Lavrov emphasized that "Russia’s position is that it cannot tolerate the Korean peninsula turning into a place of confrontation," calling for efforts to seek political and diplomatic solutions.

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