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Inter-Korean Summit 2018: Russia's role in future of the Korean peninsula

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ArirangNews

Arirang News

As we count off the days to the big summit on Friday,... we'll be focusing in on how the regional players view the upcoming meeting between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
We begin with Russia,... a key-player in North Korean affairs, as an old communist ally, and a member of the long-stalled six-party talks.
Kwon Jang-ho reports from Vladivostok.

Vladivostok, a Russian port city just a couple hundred kilometers from the North Korean border, and it could be the setting for an important meeting in the near future.

"Despite Russia offering support to South Korea and the U.S. for opening dialogue with North Korea, there are some who say Moscow’s influence has become largely sidelined. But that may not tell the entire story. As there are now rumors that Kim Jong-un is planning to visit Russia in May to meet with Vladimir Putin. And that meeting could take place here in Vladivostok."

It's proximity to North Korea has fueled such rumors.
North Korean leaders have traditionally only traveled outside of North Korea by train for security reasons, as seen last month, when Kim Jong-un met with Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Although a meeting with Putin is not confirmed, the possibility of one shows Russia is still an important partner for North Korea.

"Russia could be one of the security guarantors for North Korea. If negotiations ever come close to making some agreement, obviously some guarantees will be needed. And I think Russia is one of the powers which would be able to provide such security guarantees to Pyongyang."

Local experts stress that Russia wants a peaceful Korean Peninsula, not only to avoid a nuclear war on their doorstep, but also because of the mutual economic potential.

Currently, the Trans-Siberian Railway goes from Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, almost 10-thousand kilometers to Moscow.
But add a few hundred kilometers in the opposite direction, it could go through North Korea, all the way to South Korea, completing a link between East Asia and Europe.
Moscow has invested some 300 million U.S. dollars into the Rajin-Khasan project, a rail line which connects Russia and North Korea. But due to international sanctions, activity has halted, and its full potential remains unexplored.

"People in various countries in this area talk about, speak about cooperation... North Korea's only obstacle for this fast development for cooperation. So if we solve this problem it will work for all countries in this area. For both Koreas, or for united Korea, China, Japan, Russia, of course."

The upcoming North Korea summits with South Korea and the U.S. have also led to talks of reconvening the Six-Party Talks. That forum, now dormant for 11 years, also involved Russia, China and Japan, and formed the framework for Pyongyang to denuclearize. Moscow has been keen to promote its merits... despite the breakdown of previous agreements.

"I think the format of the six-party talks, it's very important... When we try to u

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