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A decade-old idea of a Russian gas pipeline to South Korea via North Korea could be revived if the security situation on the Korean peninsula improves, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said on Friday.
“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,” South Korea’s news agency quoted Kang as saying at a forum on regional energy cooperation in Seoul.
“Furthermore, if the North participates in talks on Northeast Asia energy cooperation, it would serve as a catalyst that helps ease geopolitical tensions in the region,” South Korea’s top diplomat noted.
Russian giant Gazprom had the idea to deliver 10 bcm of natural gas to the resource-poor and import-dependent South Korea by pipeline, but its route has to pass through the territory of North Korea. Russia and South Korea signed a “road map” 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 back in October 2012.
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On Thursday, recent rapprochement between the two Koreas has resulted in the two leaders setting up a meeting for April 27, but they omitted reference to North Korea’s nuclear program in the announcement that they would meet south of the demilitarized zone at the end of next month.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently made a surprise visit to China and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Kim is also expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump later this year.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.