Russia urges N.Korean help with border projects
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday called for cooperation with North Korea in the building of a gas pipeline, railways and power lines across the heavily fortified border with South Korea.
The call came in a message sent by Medvedev to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on the occasion of the anniversary of the end of Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.
"We have willingness to boost cooperation with the DPRK (North Korea) in all directions of mutual concern including a three-party plan encompassing Russia, the DPRK and (South Korea) in the fields of gasification, energy and railway construction," read the message published by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
Russia will ship at least 10 billion cubic metres (350 billion cubic feet) of natural gas to South Korea every year from 2017. It wants to build a gas pipeline across North Korea to transport this gas.
Talks are also under way between Russia and North Korea on the laying of power lines and railways.
"They will be of important economic significance and contribute to stabilising the situation in Northeast Asia and denuclearising the Korean Peninsula," the Russian leader said.
Experts say such projects could give North Korea tens of millions of dollars a year in handling charges. But they have yet to be approved by North Korea, despite its chronic need for hard currency..
The two Koreas are still technically at war, but opened their first regular cross-border train service in 2007. The line is presently suspended because of tensions, but the South's long-term plans include connecting the line to Russia and China.
© 2011 AFP