S. Korea gas company chief visits Russia
The head of South Korea's state gas company left Wednesday for Moscow to hold talks on a multi-billion-dollar plan to funnel Russian natural gas to South Korea via North Korea.
Korea Gas Corp said its president, Choo Kang-Soo, would hold talks with executives of Russia's largest gas firm Gazprom during his four-day stay in Moscow.
The trip came a day after Pyongyang's state media reported that a North Korean delegation led by Oil Industry Minister Kim Hui-Yong had headed for Russia.
It was not known whether Choo would meet Kim in Moscow.
The pipeline returned to the headlines last month when the North's leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly gave it his backing during a summit in Russia with President Dmitry Medvedev.
It would reduce Seoul's huge gas import bill, bring a transit fee windfall to cash-strapped Pyongyang and rake in tens of billions of dollars for Moscow's state-controlled gas company.
But experts said high cross-border tensions could yet derail the scheme.
South Korea's Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-Kyung said Wednesday he expects the project to move forward earlier than expected as all parties are showing positive interest.
"Russia is very enthusiastic, and North Korea, too, is not seriously objecting so there is a possibility that things could progress faster than anticipated," he told reporters.
But Choi said Seoul still needs to find more about the North's position before making any final decisions.
© 2011 AFP