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Russia Pledges to Work for Nuclear-Free Korean Peninsula
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Russia advocates a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and will work toward achieving this goal, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said on Tuesday.

"We have a stake in turning the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear-free zone and a zone of stability and prosperity. And we'll use every opportunity to attain this goal," Ivanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying during talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon.

Ivanov hailed relations between Moscow and Seoul, saying both sides have been cooperating constructively. "An example of this is open cooperation in settling North Korea's nuclear problem," he said.

Song is on a two-nation tour that had already taken him to Washington where he met with his US counterpart and other officials to discuss early steps for implementation of the recent joint document adopted at the six-party talks.

The latest round of six-party talks, involving China, the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and Japan, ended in Beijing last month with a joint statement on the first step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Under the document, North Korea will shut down and seal its Yongbyon nuclear facility including the reprocessing facility and will invite IAEA inspectors to return to the country to monitor and verify its actions.

In return for shutting down the reactor, the parties agreed to provide Pyongyang with 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil within 60 days as emergency energy assistance in the initial phase.

In Moscow, Song, who held talks with Ivanov and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, said implementation of the agreements reached at the six-party talks "will provide an additional impetus from the point of view of security, politics and economy."

Speaking after talks with Song, Lavrov praised US and North Korea flexibility in the talks.

"We highly assessed the flexibility and readiness to compromise shown by the United States and the North Korea, which played a crucial role in the resumption of the talks," Lavrov said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2007)

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