Gazprom in North Korea gas talks: company

6th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A delegation from Russia's Gazprom gas giant visited North Korea this week, for the latest in a sudden flurry of mysterious contacts between Moscow and the isolated state, the company said on Wednesday.

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 meeting follows a May visit to the Stalinist state by Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) director Mikhail Fradkov, who met with the Stalinist state's leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang and also discussed energy issues.

Last week, Gazprom chief Alexei Miller received the North Korean ambassador to Moscow for a brief meeting that came amid swirling media speculation of upcoming talks between Kim and Russia President Dmitry Medvedev.

That meeting was never held. But the Gazprom delegation travelled for a three-day stay in Pyongyang this week that concluded Wednesday.

Of the three rounds of talks, Russian media have provided the most details about Fradkov's talks with Kim, which reports said focused on the laying of a power line through to South Korea and the construction of a gas pipeline.

The two sides also touched on a new railway junction, Russian news report said.

The world's largest natural gas producer has been keen to expand its Asian sales and has been supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to booming South Korean market since the Sakhalin-2 project went online in the Pacific in 2009.

But most of the Sakhalin-2 gas is sent directly to Japan and Gazprom has struggled to come up with a cost-effective strategy of improving its South Korean presence because of the diplomatic isolation of the North.

Gazprom made no mention of when another meeting with North Korean officials might take place.

© 2011 AFP

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