President Moon Jae-in and Russian President Vladimir Putin vow to speed up preparations for three-party economic cooperation between the two Koreas and Russia.

President Moon Jae-in and Russian President Vladimir Putin have vowed to speed up preparations for three-party economic cooperation between the two Koreas and Russia.
South Korea and Russia will also begin the process for negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) in the service and investment sectors.
Moon and Putin announced in a joint press conference at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Friday, that South Korea and Russia would conduct joint research focusing on economic and technical feasibility of linking railways, gas pipelines and electrical grids of the three nations.
The agreement was made at the summit during Moon’s four-day state visit to Russia. It was his third meeting with Putin since taking office in May 2017. They first met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany last July and when Moon visited Vladivostok to participate in the annual Eastern Economic Forum in September.
“We decided to enhance cooperation and communication so the Korean Peninsula and Eurasia can enjoy peace and prosperity together,” Moon said during the press conference. “In preparation for trilateral economic cooperation, we will pursue projects South Korea and Russia can do first.”
The joint study has been considered as the ongoing denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States are going smoothly, brightening the prospects for the possible lifting of international sanctions on Pyongyang and economic cooperation with the North.
It is also in line with Moon’s New Northern Policy, which aims for economic cooperation with countries north of South Korea, and Putin’s New Eastern Policy to develop Russia’s Far East.
Based on the understanding that large-scale infrastructure development projects on the Korean Peninsula will contribute to peace and prosperity of Northeast Asia, the two leaders confirmed their interest in building railway networks linking South and North Korea, Russia and Europe.
The two leaders exchanged opinions on the resumption of the logistics business of the Rajin-Khassan Project, a project designed to improve rail transport on the border between North Korea and Russia which South Korea earlier decided to participate.
The two leaders also discussed the North’s denuclearization and the changing diplomatic and security situation in Northeast Asia, in the wake of the inter-Korean and the Washington-Pyongyang summits.
Moon expressed his hope the Russian government will play a constructive role so the ongoing political and diplomatic efforts surrounding the Korean Peninsula can lead to denuclearization of the peninsula and peace in the region.
Putin recognized South Korea’s role in leading the recent breakthroughs in the nuclear standoff, pledging his effort to resolve the issue peacefully. Also, he welcomed the adoption of the Panmunjeom Declaration to achieve peace, prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula.
The two leaders also agreed on more bilateral economic cooperation.
“I am happy to see the two countries started domestic procedures for discussion on an FTA in the service and investment sectors,” Moon said. “Especially, I hope the deal will create more jobs for young people.”
The FTA between Seoul and Moscow will be expanded to economic cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
Through such cooperation, they aim to expand trade volume between South Korea and Russia to $30 billion by 2020 from $19 billion in 2017 and double the number of people-to-people exchanges to 1 million. Also, the two agreed to set the year 2020 for South Korea-Russia cultural exchanges to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
A signing ceremony was also held between organizations from the two countries where they signed 12 memoranda of understanding on economic and diplomatic cooperation.
Moon invited Putin to Seoul, an offer Putin accepted.
Before the summit, Moon also attended the South Korea-Russia Business Forum at the Lotte Hotel Moscow and made a keynote speech to emphasize the direction of economic cooperation between South Korea and Russia for the co-prosperity and development for Eurasia.
Moon’s trip to Russia is the first state visit by a South Korean president since Kim Dae-jung in 1999.

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