RUSSIA AND THE KOREAN - GAS - UNITY. (La Russia e l'unità coreana ... del gas)

South Korean and Russian press are reporting on talks between officials from Russia and South and North Korea on construction of a gas pipeline along the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, just back from a visit to Moscow, said on August 12 that Gazprom and the Russian Foreign Ministry are in contact with North Korean officials about the possibility of building a pipeline from Russia to South Korea via North Korea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been quoted as saying North Korea was "positive" about the idea.

Gazprom and South Korean company KOGAS signed an agreement for Russian gas in 2008, but
that deal envisioned Russia shipping liquefied natural gas from Sakhalin Island.

North Korea says it has received a message from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev seeking cooperation on the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia, through North Korea to South Korea.

Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said Monday the message also proposed connecting railways and power lines across the three countries. It said the message was delivered to mark the anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted last week saying North Korean officials had responded favorably during initial discussions about the pipeline project. South Korea has contracted to purchase huge amounts of natural gas from Russia later in this decade, and a pipeline through North Korea would substantially reduce delivery costs.

For North Korea, the deal presents an opportunity to acquire vital hard currency by charging transit fees. However South Korea has been reluctant to enter into similar deals in the past because of its often hostile relationship with Pyongyang. Any such system could be disrupted during a future dispute.

KCNA quoted Mr. Medvedev’s message saying Russia is willing to boost cooperation with North Korea “in all directions of mutual concern.” The message said these included a “three-party plan” in the fields of gasification, energy and railway construction.

There have already been preliminary discussions of a rail line that would run from South Korea and connect to the trans-Siberian railroad, making it possible to travel by train from Seoul to Europe.
(Voice of America)

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