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Russia eager to expand military ties with N. Korea: Sergeyev+.

MOSCOW, Nov. 27 Kyodo

Russia is keen to expand its military ties with North Korea, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said Monday prior to a three-day visit to Japan.

''We are interested in expanding cooperative ties, including cooperation in the field military technology, with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and other countries,'' Sergeyev said in a written interview with Kyodo News.

Sergeyev also expressed interest for stronger military ties with Japan, but acknowledged that he was aware of domestic legal constraints in Japan.

Sergeyev headed to Tokyo Monday night. According to Itar-Tass news agency, Sergeyev is expected to meet with Defense Agency Director General Kazuo Torashima and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, and may meet with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori during his stay in Japan.

In his written response, Sergeyev indicated that Moscow was equally concerned with remaining on good terms with South Korea and upgrading its dialogue with Japan on defense issues, including technical exchange.

''We will work toward maintaining a balance in our policies toward the North and the South,'' Sergeyev said.

Sergeyev's remarks are a sign that Moscow is keen to pick up the momentum created by Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to North Korea in July to strengthening bilateral ties with Pyongyang, and to use military technology as the lever with which to do so.

Most of North Korea's weapons were supplied by the former Soviet Union.

Discussions with Japanese officials during his trip may also include an exchange of views on the offer allegedly made by Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong Il to Putin to halt North Korea's missile development program in exchange for foreign assistance, Sergeyev said.

He also made clear that he will bring up the issue of Japanese cooperation with the United States to develop a missile defense system, arguing that such a weapons system would provoke a military build-up in northeast Asia.

Sergeyev proposed that a regional forum be created to deliberate on the missile defense issue, arguing strongly for the necessity of multilateral cooperation on defense.

''The issue of creating a missile defense system for the region should be decided at a regional forum,'' Sergeyev said.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Dec 4, 2000
Words:355
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