This is a real love fest, Putin scores another huge diplomatic and strategic success. The World Cup is only helping.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Russia is in the catbird seat when it comes to the Koreas. As a staunch supporter of N. Korea, S. Korea has every conceivable interest in cultivating Russia, partly as a counterbalance to China and of course, the US.
Major economic cooperation is in the works. Putin says S. Korea is Russia's priority economic partner.
Russia's geographical proximity to so many Asian economic powerhouses is again turning to its advantage.
Full transcript below:
Russia and South Korea will continue contributing to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Besides, Seoul will purchase more Russian gas and help Moscow explore petroleum deposits. These are just some of the mutual agreements reached today during the talks between Vladimir Putin and the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in.
The honored guest has paid a state visit to Moscow.
The South Korean President, accompanied by his Ministers and the Governor of the Kremlin, walks up the long Kremlin stairs with a red carpet. The Guardsmen synchronously open the golden doors of St. George's Hall to the sound of drums and trumpets. The leaders of Russia and South Korea walk towards each other just as synchronously. This is their second meeting in Russia, third overall. However, this Moon Jae-in's visit is considered a state visit-plus.
Vladimir Putin: "The Republic of Korea is our priority Asian partner. Your country has the second largest turnover in Russia. We've been seeing a great trend lately".
Moon Jae-in, South Korean President: "When I read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, I fell in love with Russia, dreaming of visiting it. Now, I'm finally in Moscow, and I'm overwhelmed with emotions".
Obviously, the Korean issue is the focus. Today's meeting was preceded by a series of historic talks, the meeting of the two Korean leaders at the infamous 38th parallel, and the recent meeting between the US President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Moon Jae-in says that Russia's position contributes to peace-making in the Korean Peninsula.
Vladimir Putin: "You know that Russia has always stood for normalization on the Korean Peninsula. We've always done our share to resolve any and all divisive issues".
Moon Jae-in: "I'm sincerely grateful for your support in our political reconciliation, including the successful inter-Korean summit, the meeting between North Korean and US leaders".
As the old Korean saying goes, "It's not what one's wearing, it's what they have in their soul that counts". The Korean President talks about similar approaches to foreign and domestic policies.
Moon Jae-in: "I know that President Putin has made a point of the necessity to raise living standards of the Russian citizens during his speech in March. He's emphasized the need to increase living wage and improve overall Russian people's welfare. This is in complete accord with the policy centered around people that I pursue in South Korea".
Both countries have high hopes for joint high-tech projects. The leaders call their priority fields the "Nine Bridges" of cooperation, and they're already being built.
Yury Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia: “We currently have 6 new projects in the Far East worth one billion dollars. We must ensure this number keeps growing.”
Energy is the traditional focus.
Vladimir Putin: “Russia is a reliable supplier of energy sources for the Republic of Korea. Last year, Korean consumers have received 12.5 million tons of oil, almost 2 million tons of LNG, and 26 million tons of coal.
Leonid Mikhelson, the CEO of "Novatek" PJSC: "We're negotiating cooperating with Kogas, participation in the future "Arctic LNG 2" projects, and the supply capacity of the Russian LNG. The first line has been launched, the second line is on its way".
Moscow and Seoul want to build a gas pipeline, and a railroad between Northern and Southern Korean Peninsula, and expand Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea's Busan. They've signed an impressive set of agreements focused on creating a free trade area for manufactured and electronic goods. Moscow and Korea's major Korean Bundang Hospital will build a new modern medical center for treating heart disease and cancer. This will be a part of the great international medical cluster.
Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund: "We'll build a new diagnostic center in Russia using the best Korean technologies. Such projects that make Korean technologies useful to Russians are very important".
After the official part, Putin has shown Kremlin's historic halls to Moon Jae-in. He also gave the South Korean leader's wife a book about The Hermitage. It turned out they've always dreamed of going there.
"I'll definitely go there, I keep telling my husband I'll go to The Hermitage".
Russia and South Korea have another thing in common. Both countries got to host two of this year's main sporting events, the Winter Olympics in the South Korean Pyeongchang and the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Tomorrow, South Korean President will go from Moscow to Rostov-on-Don to root for his national team.
The sports program is the perfect background for a great political dialogue.
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