Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) met with Russian Federation President Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev on Wednesday (24 August) at a military compound outside of Ulan Ude in Siberia. During the meeting, KJI said that he would consider suspending any additional nuclear weapons development, testing and production as part of an oft-repeated pledge for the DPRK to return to the Six Party Talks. RT reports:
North Korea is ready to return to the Six-Party negotiation table unconditionally and to do so, Kim Jong-il promised his country will impose moratorium on nuclear testing and nuclear weapons production.
Presidential Press Secretary Natalia Timakova announced these results of the meeting on Wednesday.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his North Korean counterpart have met in the secluded military compound Sosnovy Bor (Pine Wood) on the outskirts of the capital of Republic of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude. The talks lasted for two hours and ten minutes.The leaders shook hands for protocol photos in the presence of press, then proceeded to negotiate behind closed doors. Few results were announced once the negotiations were over, including little information about the topics of discussion.
Surely, tense topics have been discussed during the meeting. Most likely the talks were focused on Six-Party Talks: North Korea withdrew from the Six-Party Talks (which include North and South Koreas, Russia, China, US and Japan) and continued with its nuclear experiments, defiant in its continuation of its nuclear program, predictably causing outrage not only within the Six Parties, but the whole of the international community.
KJI and Medvedev also discussed the formation of a three-country commission to oversee the development and construction of a gas pipeline running from Russia through the DPRK to ROK. ITAR-TASS reports:
Medvedev said, “We achieved certain results on gas cooperation. In particular, a decision has been taken to create a special commission for gas transit to the Republic of Korea via the territory of the DPRK.”
“The DPRK seeks to realise this project,” the Russian president stressed. At the same time, he pointed out that the gas pipeline of 1,100 km long was planning to be built.
“This year it will be possible to transport up to 10 billion cubic metres of gas by this pipeline. If there is demand, we are ready to increase our supplies,” Medvedev said.
“We instructed our agencies to create a special commission in order to determine concrete parameters of gas cooperation via the territory of the DPRK and involve South Korea in this project due to the fact that main consumers are deployed on its territory,” the Russian president said.
He noted, “The DPRK seeks to realise such tripartite project with the participation of Russia and South Korea. Now we are starting a technical work.” “Some time ago the Gazprom delegation led by the deputy head of the board visited the DPRK. Yesterday I instructed [the company’s head Alexei] Miller to deal with this problem. We’ll hope that there will be a good project,” Medvedev said.
A delegation from Russia’s Gazprom gas giant visited North Korea last week, for the latest in a sudden flurry of mysterious contacts between Moscow and the isolated state, the company said.
The Gazprom team was headed by deputy managing chairman Alexander Ananenkov, who met with North Korea’s oil minister to discuss “outstanding issues of cooperation in the energy sphere,” the Russian company said.
The construction of a gas pipeline between Russia and South Korea via the DPRK will guarantee the restoration and strengthening of trust between Seoul and Pyongyang, said Georgy Toloraya, director of research programmes at the Centre for Modern Korean Studies, Institute of World Economy and International Relations.
Commenting on a visit to Russia by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Toloraya said, “The upcoming talks between the Russian and North Korean leaders are important. The six-party consultations may resume. North Koreans said they were ready to resume negotiations and discus the nuclear programme. It will be more difficult to ignore a signal that Kim Jong-il will give to the international community with the aid of Dmitry Medvedev.”
“If Russia supports the initiative [on resuming the six-party talks] and guarantees that North Koreans seek to discuss this problem, it will be more difficult for Seoul and Washington to scuttle the dialogue,” the Russian expert said.
Economic projects, such as the construction of a gas pipeline between Russia and South Korea via the DPRK, the linking up of the Trans-Korean railway with the Trans-Siberian mainline and the construction of a power transmission line from the Far East to the Republic of Korea, can be very significant in relations between the two countries. “This issue is being actively finalised. Gazprom’ s project has been approved by North Korea. Pyongyang is also ready to take part in the project jointly with South Koreans despite difficult relations. Now Gazprom intends to inform Seoul about this. South Koreans agree in word although they voice concerns over North Korea’s possible dependence, including illegal gas extraction and blackmail,” he said.
At the same time, he said, “The pipeline will guarantee the restoration and strengthening of trust between the North and the South. The economic development of North Korea will become one more argument for stopping the nuclear programme.”
The meeting’s agenda also included a bit of old business, including the DPRK’s formal recognition of the Russian Federation succeeding the Soviet Union and the DPRK’s repayment of foreign debts to the former USSR. RIA Novosti reports:
Medvedev and Kim met in Ulan-Ude, in East Siberia’s Buryatia Region earlier in the day.
“The leaders agreed on an approach toward solving this issue,” the source said.
Renewed talks on the issue had been going on for around six weeks, the source added.
“The Russian delegation thinks that the fact that these talks have been renewed is a significant breakthrough toward solving this issue.”
The talks involve North Korea’s $11 billion debt to Russia from the Soviet era, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak said on Wednesday.
He also said that North Korea should first recognize Russia as a successor state of the Soviet Union. Then the two states need to recalculate the sum of the loan, which was issued in Soviet rubles at the exchange rate of 0.6 rubles per $1.
Only then the two countries may launch negotiations “on how to repay the resulting sum.”
Moscow sees the loan as one of the factors that hinder trade and economic cooperation between the two states.