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Kim Jong Il Woos Russia as Potential Investor in North Korea

Kim’s visit to Russia was shrouded in secrecy – as one Russian specialist on North Korea explained, "Judging by all indications, the whole thing is due to North Korea's habit of doing everything in absolute secrecy in the hope of confusing potential saboteurs."
Details of his meeting with Russian Federation President Dmitrii Medvedev are emerging, which paint a picture of the North Korean leader pitching the idea of Russian investment in his impoverished nation. Kim’s last meeting with a Russian leader was in August 2002, when he had informal talks with President Putin in Vladivostok.
According to South Korean statistics, North Korea’s trade with China in 2010 was nearly $3.5 billion, but its bilateral trade with Russia was only $110 million. Prospects for growth are modest at present because North Korea has little money and little to sell to Russia, Moscow’s Novaia Gazeta newspaper reported.
Kim is nevertheless interested in attracting Russian investment to modernize the country’s antiquated industrial base and expand its extraction of minerals. Among the topics discussed during the summit Kim also expressed an interest in Russia participating in the development of North Korea’s Rajin port, which he would like to turn into an important Far Eastern transshipping hub. The problem with this particular scheme is that if Rajin was developed it would directly compete with Russian neighboring port of Zarubino. The Russian side in turn expressed interest in building a natural gas pipeline across North Korea, a concept which Kim allegedly agreed to.

By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com

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