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Russia, South Korea Revive Talks to Build Gas Pipeline Via N. Korea

Russia, South Korea Revive Talks to Build Gas Pipeline Via N. KoreaRussia, South Korea Revive Talks to Build Gas Pipeline Via N. Korea

Russian gas giant Gazprom has resumed talks with South Korea over a decade-old idea to build a gas pipeline from Russia’s Far East to South Korea through North Korea, the deputy chairman of Gazprom’s Management Committee said on Friday.

“To date, the political situation has been somewhat different and the South Korean side has asked Gazprom to resume the project. A series of talks has been held on this issue and these talks are continuing,” Russia’s TASS news agency also quoted Vitaly Markelov as saying at a news conference.

Gazprom floated the idea of delivering 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the resource-poor and import-dependent South Korea by pipeline, but its route must pass through the territory of North Korea. Russia and South Korea signed a “roadmap” in 2011, but have not advanced beyond that, due to the tense regional situation.

“The ideas behind the pipeline look very difficult to implement, especially given the complex political-military context continuing on the Korean Peninsula, and the obvious political risks. However, if there is political will and a mutual commitment, this project could take place, strengthening not only energy, but also military and political security in this rather turbulent region,” Gazprom said in a corporate newsletter in October 2012.

At the end of March, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the idea of the Russian gas pipeline to South Korea via North Korea could be revived if the security situation on the Korean Peninsula improves.

“Should the security situation on the Korean Peninsula improve, we will be able to review the PNG [pipeline natural gas] business involving the two Koreas and Russia,” Kang said at the time, Yonhap news agency reported.

Between March this year and this week, the political situation around the Korean Peninsula changed after a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April, and this week’s US-North Korea summit in Singapore.

 

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