Source AP ©

Putin asked to go-between Koreas

Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun to help implement an inter-Korean agreement aimed at easing tension on the Cold War's last frontier during their telephone talk.

Roh briefed Putin on key agreements he made with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during their talks in Pyongyang last week, which were the first inter-Korean summit meeting in seven years.

In a joint declaration, the leaders of the divided Koreas pledged to make efforts to comply with the latest multilateral agreement aimed at disarming North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, seek multiparty talks on replacing a Korean War armistice with a peace treaty and carry out a set of new cross-border economic projects.

"President Roh asked Russia to make a constructive contribution to the smooth implementation of agreements between the leaders of South and North Korea, and for peace and stability in Northeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula," Roh's office, the Blue House, said in a statement.

Putin congratulated Roh for producing the agreements, which he said were the results of the South Korean government's engagement policy with the North, the statement said.

Roh and Putin agreed to closely cooperate on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and peace in the Northeast Asian region, it also said.

In a new round of six-party talks in Beijing late last month, North Korea agreed to disable its main nuclear facilities and declare all its nuclear programs by year's end. Those talks also included South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

A team of U.S. nuclear experts is scheduled to visit the North this week to survey the country's Yongbyon nuclear complex to help map out its disablement plan.