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(LEAD) Russia's top diplomat to visit Seoul for talks on bilateral ties, peninsula issues

Diplomacy 16:42 March 23, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details from ministry's background briefing in paras 7-11)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was set to visit South Korea on Tuesday for talks with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong about bilateral relations, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and other issues, officials said.

Lavrov is expected to fly in here from China, where he made a two-day visit for talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Lavrov last came to Seoul in 2013, when he accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin on a trip. Before that, he traveled to Seoul in 2009, which followed a visit to North Korea.

On Wednesday, Lavrov and Chung will attend an opening ceremony to mark the official kick-off of a series of events and mutual exchanges that will take place this year in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the two countries' diplomatic ties.

Joined by some 50 guests from the two countries in compliance with COVID-19 distancing rules, the ceremony will also feature musical and cultural performances.

The anniversary event was initially set for last year, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The relations between Seoul and Moscow were established on Sept. 30, 1990.

On Thursday, the two ministers will hold talks and have lunch together.

During the talks, they are expected to discuss a broad range of bilateral and regional issues, including North Korea's denuclearization and efforts to further enhance cooperation in economy and other areas.

"Joint responses to COVID-19 will be a fresh agenda item in the upcoming talks, as well as the Northeast Asia Conference on Health Security led by our country, which Russia is also participating in," a ministry official said, referring to a regional cooperation forum on handling pandemics and other challenges.

Also on the table will be bilateral economic cooperation in northern regions, known as the "nine bridges" of cooperation plans in such areas as energy, infrastructure, shipbuilding, agriculture and innovative platforms, the official said.

The plans, proposed by President Moon Jae-in during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in 2017, aim to eventually involve North Korea after the denuclearization issue is resolved.

Seoul's foreign ministry said earlier that Lavrov's visit is expected to serve as "an opportunity to strengthen strategic communication between the two countries and further deepen friendly and cooperative relations."

Lavrov will return to Russia on Thursday.

This photo, provided by Russia's foreign ministry and published by EPA on Oct. 10, 2020, shows its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaking in a press conference after having talks with his counterparts of Armenia and Azerbaijan. (Yonhap)


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