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Russian foreign minister to visit North Korea: ministry

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) April 21, 2009
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit the two Koreas this week, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday after the North's decision to quit six-party talks and expel UN nuclear inspectors.

Lavrov will visit North Korea April 23-24 and South Korea April 24-25 to "discuss bilateral relations with the two Korean states, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia and other relevant international questions of mutual interest," the ministry said.

In the United Nations, Moscow has so far resisted calls for sanctions against Pyongyang following this month's rocket launch by the North, condemned by the West as violating a UN resolution.

In the wake of a UN statement criticising the launch, North Korea announced it was quitting six-nation nuclear disarmament talks that include Russia and that it was restarting its atomic weapons programme.

Along with China, Moscow had resisted moves to issue a UN resolution condemning the rocket launch, instead backing a statement with less diplomatic weight.

Relations between Russia and the North are however far from warm, despite efforts to form close ties in the years that followed the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Prior to this month's rocket launch, Russia called for the launch to be postponed. Some Russian officials voiced worries about the consequences of the launch close to Russia's far eastern territory.

Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council and shares an 18-kilometre (11-mile) border with North Korea.

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NKorea renews threat to 'bolster nuclear deterrent'
Seoul (AFP) April 19, 2009
North Korea Sunday renewed a threat to "bolster its nuclear deterrent" while lashing out at the UN Security Council for condemning the communist state's April 5 rocket launch.

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