Russia for closer economic links with North Korea: Foreign Ministry spokesman

It is in Russian interests to join hands with North Korea on ambitious long-term economic projects, bilateral or multilateral, as the case may be, Alexander Yakovenko, spokesman to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on the eve of a visit to Pyongyang by Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Economic contacts between Russia and North Korea will certainly be prominent on the negotiation agenda. A detailed discussion is necessary as both countries expect much more of their links than they actually have, and though there is a pronounced trend for closer economic contacts and a greater trade turnover, no practical improvement has come in for today.

Russia is greatly interested in implementing multilateral economic projects, with the greatest hopes pinned on resuming trans-Korean railway communication eventually to link the revived road to Russia's Trans-Siberian Rail.

Mr. Yakovenko highlighted an affinity of Igor Ivanov's upcoming visit with the spirit of the Moscow Declaration of 2001. The event will continue a sequence of bilateral high-level conferences and negotiations, summits included, he added.

"A stepped-up dialogue promotes both Parties' interests and is keeping with the goals of Russian peaceloving policies toward both Korean states," said the diplomat. Active political exchanges at all levels, as ushered in by summitry in Pyongyang, July 2000, and Moscow, August 2001, have every chance to develop Russian contacts with North Korea into friendly and constructive partnership in compliance with a bilateral treaty of friendship, goodneighbourly relations and cooperation, as signed in February 2000.