Korean investors urged to put cash into Russia
During a meeting with his Russian counterpart, South Korea's Foreign Minister Song Min-soon thanked the Russian government for its help in freeing the missionaries kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
South Korea congratulated Russia on its successful bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, indicating there were no hard feelings despite Korea's candidate being the runner-up.
The foreign ministers also discussed North Korea's nuclear programme and increasing South Korea-Russia economic ties. Both countries expressed an interest in new projects, with joint space exploration being one of the key areas of co-operation. With Russia's help, South Korea is preparing to send its first astronaut to the ISS next year. It is also gearing up for its first domestic launch of a satellite, also with Russia’s assistance.
Meanwhile, Moscow is also pushing for construction of a Trans-Korean railway with a view to linking it with Russia’s Trans-Siberian railway, potentially creating a major trade route.
As far as the forthcoming summit is concerned, the relationship between two Koreas seems to be improving.
In 2000, small steps were taken towards better relations, when a summit held between the then leaders of the two countries saw several economic projects spring to life as well as the reunions of families split by the conflict.
Nevertheless, the achievements were overshadowed by North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear programme, the completion of which was followed by international outrage. Relations became strained not only with the South, but also with the United States and Russia.
Now, there's hope worldwide that the summit could help the six-party talks, which include Russia, on the nuclear issue and urge North Korea to co-operate further in the disarmament process.
The summit is also expected to focus on building economic ties between the two countries. South Korea says it could help restore the North's fragile economy.
“Now is the time to develop inter-Korean economic co-operation as a productive investment. Co-operation could lead to more investment opportunities, which the North could exploit as a means of improving its economy,” said Roh Moo-hyun, South Korean President.
Meanwhile, not everybody views the summit as a positive event. Protesters in South Korea have held a rally in protest, claiming that the talks are just an election campaign aid rather than a chance to reach a peaceful settlement between the two sides.
Sсepticism of how useful the talks might be was further fuelled when the North postponed the summit because of heavy floods in the country. Analysts said the delay could be a sign that the talks are just for show.
Nevertheless, the international community remains optimistic that the meeting will help make further progress in the six-party talks and restore peace in the region.