Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 73

In a letter passed last week to North Korean President Kim Jong IL, Russian president Boris Yeltsin reportedly expressed Russia’s support for a "peaceful, democratic reunification" of the two Koreas and said that Moscow would do everything in its power to assist that process. Yeltsin also was reported to have suggested to Kim that Moscow and Pyongyang renew their treaty of friendship as one means of promoting stability on the Korean peninsula.

Reports of Yeltsin’s proposals came at the close of three days of talks in Pyongyang that Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Ignatenko described as "fruitful and productive." The two sides reportedly signed a protocol April 12 that calls for cooperation in trade, economics, science and technology, and the establishment of working groups in those areas. Ignatenko also claimed some credit for the easing of tensions on the peninsula that followed South Korea’s April 11 parliamentary elections. But Ignatenko failed in his efforts to meet with Kim Jong IL, and deputy foreign minister Aleksandr Panov, in Pyongyang for parallel political talks, suggested that Moscow had been rebuffed in its efforts to play a peacemaking role. Panov said that the two sides had agreed to disagree on that issue after North Korean officials insisted on conducting talks only with the United States, without intermediaries or any third-country participation. (Itar-Tass, April 12; AP & Reuter, April 13)

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