Russia expecting year of “intensive contacts” with North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and soldiers from the Korean People's Army Unit 1286 (AFP Photo / KCNA via KNS / Files)
Moscow wants more intensive contacts with its communist neighbor North Korea in order to ensure peace in Northeast Asia, yet the situation between North and South Korea continues to deteriorate.

­During a reception at the North Korean Embassy on the occasion of the 69th birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Borodavkin announced Russia’s desire for strengthening bilateral relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in order to preserve regional peace.

"We have every reason to assert that the basic principles of the Russian-Korean interstate Treaty of Friendship, Good-Neighborly Relations and Co-operation, and the agreements reached between the Russian and North Korean leaders, meet the interests of our peoples,” Borodavkin said, adding that both Moscow and Pyongyang share an interest in “maintaining…peace and security in Northeast Asia.”

Russia’s declaration of a commitment to regional peace took on new meaning on Thursday as North Korea abruptly pulled out of defense talks with South Korea, accusing Seoul of “lacking serious intent to improve relations.”

The talks were the first between the two states since nuclear-armed North Korea attacked the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November with an artillery bombardment. The deadly conflict represented the low-point in relations between North and South since the March 26, 2010, sinking of the 1,200-tonne South Korean warship Cheonan, which resulted in the death of 46 South Korean sailors. Seoul said it has proof that North Korea fired a torpedo at the vessel from a submarine, although Pyongyang denies the attack. 

Meanwhile, Moscow has not yet commented on North Korea’s Thursday announcement that it is pulling out of military talks with Seoul. Borodavkin, however, reminded his embassy hosts on Tuesday that the occasion of the North Korean leader’s birthday "coincides with one more important historical event in Comrade Kim Jong-il's foreign-policy activities: the 11th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Good-Neighborly Relations and Co-operation, signed on February 9, 2000."

The treaty was designed to lay a solid foundation for promoting friendly and comprehensive relations between the two countries, Borodavkin added.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, noting that Russian-North Korean co-operation was strong in 2010, said that Russia expects bilateral relations to retain their positive trend this year, while prodding his guests by mentioning the stalled nuclear talks.

"We also hope that conditions will be created for the earliest possible resumption of the Six-Party Talks on the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula,” Borodavkin said. “We will continue to co-operate with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for the sake of attaining the common goal of turning the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear-free zone and guaranteeing security and stable socio-economic development in all countries of the region."

In Pyongyang’s Thursday statement by a delegation of military officers, South Korea was blamed for “torpedoing” the Six-Party talks.

The South Korean regime "torpedoes with such actions a resumption of the Six-Party talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and all attempts to establish talks between the countries situated around it".

Russia, however, is hoping that economic incentives may be the key to producing a thaw between Pyongyang and Seoul. 

Borodavkin added that Russia was willing to help finance an array of inter-Korean economic projects that could promote peace while enhancing the lives of both the Korean and Russian peoples.

"We see no alternative to the normalization of political relations between the two Korean states, and we are prepared to help launch energy, transport and other joint economic projects on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

Borodavkin added that President Dmitry Medvedev had forwarded a message of greetings to Comrade Kim Jong-il on the occasion of his 69th birthday.

Robert Bridge, RT