Russia, South Korea eye close ties but hurdles remain

11:56, September 12, 2010      

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held talks here Friday on the sidelines of the second World Political Forum.

The meeting revealed their willingness and thirst for enhancing cooperation and advancing their partnership relations, though difficulties remained.


In his address at the forum, Lee said South Korea and Russia had established comprehensive cooperative relations in the fields of politics, economy, diplomacy, culture and other areas since the two sides set up diplomatic relations 20 years ago.

He called for an updated concept in dealing with bilateral relations and for an advance in their dialogue to a higher level.

The advancement of bilateral ties has been accelerating in recent years, according to Alexander Fedorovsky, head of the Asian-Pacific sector at the Moscow Institute for World Economy and International Relations.

"Neither Russia, nor South Korea has the faintest idea of what to expect during the process of power transfer and shortly afterwards. In some respect, this is a ground for Moscow-Seoul rapprochement," the professor said.

On one hand, with the improvement of bilateral ties, South Korea would acquire more understanding and support from Russia, a participant in the six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while enhancing its influence in Asia and even worldwide.

On the other hand, it could also help Russia better exert its efforts in playing an active role in the Far East region.


In Yaroslav, Lee also expressed his hope that South Korea could be a partner in the modernization of Russia's economic development.

"I firmly believe that Russia's potential is enormous. I am sure this great country will prosper on the basis of the newest technologies and its abundant natural resources. It will reach the highest level of development," he said.

According to Lee, the automobile industry, energy sector, space technologies and infrastructure are some key areas with great prospects for bilateral cooperation.

Fedorovsky said deeper cooperation with South Korea was also an opportunity for Russia to diversify its foreign trade.

"Russia has much to learn from South Korea, which has been developing a 'mimic' modernization, that is, employing the technologies the other countries have worked out," he said.


Though the two countries were willing to cooperate with each other, little would be achieved in deepening their relations in the near future, analysts said.

One difference lies in South Korea's insistence that Moscow should be firmer in dealing with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Fedorovsky said.

Russia believed it was wrong to drive Pyongyang into corner, while Seoul believed nobody was driving Pyongyang into corner but Pyongyang itself, he said.

While developing the relationship with South Korea, Russia would consider the overall balance in the peninsular, he said. Moreover, the Lee government was more dedicated to reinforcing its political relations with Washington, its long-term strategic partner, than Moscow.

Source: Xinhua


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