Russian envoy to visit Seoul for N. Korea talks

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Russia's chief envoy to disarmament talks on North Korea will visit Seoul this week, South Korea's foreign ministry said Sunday, amid calls to revive the long-stalled discussions.

Alexei Borodavkin will travel to Seoul on January 28 to discuss "a range of issues including the North's nuclear situations and future response" with his counterpart Wi Sung-Lac, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Pyongyang's disclosure last November of an apparently functioning uranium enrichment plant -- a potential second way to make atomic bombs -- heightened security fears on the Korean peninsula.

Tensions soared the same month after North Korea shelled a border island, killing four South Koreans including two civilians.

Meeting in the US last week President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao highlighted "the paramount goal" of denuclearising the communist North and called for "necessary steps" to resume the six-nation disarmament talks.

The forum, chaired by the North's major ally China and also involving the two Koreas, Japan, the US and Russia, has been deadlocked since it last met in December 2008.

Pyongyang abandoned talks in April 2009 and conducted a second nuclear test a month later.

Beijing wants to revive negotiations, but Washington, Tokyo and Seoul have been lukewarm, insisting Pyongyang first mend cross-border ties and show seriousness about disarmament.

© 2011 AFP

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