Aug. 16 – In a message to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country is willing to step up cooperation with both Koreas including a trilateral project in gas, energy and railway construction, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency reported Monday.
“[The project] will contribute to stabilizing the situation in Northeast Asia and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” KCNA quoted him as saying.
As a precursor to Medvedev’s project proposal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had previously met with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan last Monday to relay Russia’s interest to lay a gas pipeline across the North Korea-South Korea border; something the North is reportedly positive about.
The pipeline project would supply Russian natural gas to both countries on the Korean Peninsula and has been under discussion between the Korean Gas Corp. and Russia’s Gazprom.
“Russia is trying to give shape to a projected three-way cooperation among both Koreas and Russia in the gas sector, rather than in energy or railways where it is realistically more difficult to seek trilateral cooperation,” a senior South Korean government official said, according to the Chosunilbo. “Russia expects that this project will not only turn out to be economically beneficial to all, but play a role in deterring the North from launching military provocations.”