Russian investors are in talks with North Korea on supplying the energy-starved country with oil by rail, Russia's railways chief said Monday in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk.
Head of the state-run Russian Railways, Gennady Fadeyev, said that a project was under consideration to build a railway line linking the Russian border crossing of Khasan to an oil refinery in the nearby North Korean port of Najin, the Interfax news agency reported.
"As far as I know, plans are being considered to build a railway line linking Khasan and an oil refinery in the North Korean port of Najin. There are investors interested in supplying Russian oil to North Korea for refining," he said.
The minister gave no further details of the Russian parties involved in the negotiations or the financing.
North Korea's isolated Stalinist regime has faced energy shortages since Washington cut off energy aid in 2002. It said that Pyongyang had admitted running a nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement that gave the impoverished country fuel supplies and help in building two civilian nuclear reactors in exchange for abandoning its nuclear weapons ambitions.
North Korea, which declared last month it had developed an atomic bomb, has refused to attend a fourth round of six-nation talks aimed at brokering a settlement to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, accusing Washington of a hostile policy.
Moscow, which is one of the six countries involved in the frozen talks, had close ties with Pyongyang in Soviet times and maintains cordial relations.