Igor Ivanov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, started an official visit to South Korea.
President Kim Dae-jung met him at the negotiation table today to discuss bilateral trade, economic partnership and political contacts, and developments in the Korean peninsula, Alexander Losyukov, Mr. Ivanov's deputy, said to the media after the talks.
The negotiators debated several joint economic projects--in particular, Lotte Co.'s blueprints for a South Korean business centre in Garden Ring in Moscow's centre. One of South Korea's seven leading financial and industrial groups, the Lotte is ready to invest on a grand scale--an approximate US$300 million. The project has entered the practical implementation stage, said the vice-minister.
South Korea confirmed its interest in linking the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Korean railways, and called Russia for all-round support of the lucrative project--in particular, to get it through in upcoming contacts with North Korea, which is also interested in the programme.
South Korea looks forward to both Koreas' railways simultaneously linked on two routes--an eastern, which the North Korean top is approving, and a western, crossing China up to the Trans-Siberian Rail, said President Kim.
South Korea also finds the Irkutsk gas project extremely lucrative. It envisages a mainline to connect the country with gasfields in Siberia via China.
South Korea remains vitally interested in gas project Sakhalin 2 for liquified gas imports from the Russian Far East. President Kim's confirmation of eagerness to see the projects implemented had tremendous political significance, pointed out Mr. Losyukov.
He does not think the outcome of a South Korean presidential election, due December, will tell on project implementation. "South Korean corporations are interested in it irrespective of political leadership--and none other than corporations dictate policies in that sphere," said the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.