It was with music, flowers, and smiles that Vladivostok, the Far East, saw off the Russian-Korean Friendship express on Tuesday. In two weeks the train is to cover the 11,000-km distance from the Pacific to the Baltic. On July 30th, it is to arrive in St.Petersburg.
More than 300 passengers, Korean and Russian businessmen, politicians, students, scientists, and cultural workers, will make long stops in Khabarovsk (the Far East), Irkutsk and Novosibirsk (Siberia), Yekaterinburg (the Urals), Moscow, and St. Petersburg.
In these cities they will hold seminars and business round tables, present Korean products, screen national films and arrange photo exhibitions.
Korean businessmen await a lot from the Friendship express, which is to become "the two countries' train to the future", first deputy foreign and trade minister of Korea Kim Kang Khun told journalists in Vladivostok.
"In 2001 the trade volume between South Korea and Russia exceeded $2.8 billion. The potential of growth of business activities is much higher for both parties," he stressed.
Among projects able to connect the two economies he named the restoration of the Trans-Korean railway and its joining the Trans-Siberian railway.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969