South Korean President Moon Jae-in begins his state visit to Russia on Thursday. The central point on the visit’s agenda is his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for Friday. On Thursday, Moon Jae-in will meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"The Russian prime minister and the South Korean president will discuss the current state of and prospects for further development of trade-an-economic and investment cooperation between Russia and South Korea with a focus on the implementation of large-scale joint projects in the energy sector, in the areas of industry, high technologies, transport and others," the press service of the Russian government said.
"Top-level talks will be held in Moscow on June 22. It is planned to discuss topical issues of the development of Russian-South Korean ties in the political, trade-and-economic and humanitarian spheres," the Kremlin press service said. "The leaders will exchange views on regional problems, first of all, on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It is planned to sign a number of bilateral documents."
During his stay in Moscow, Moon Jae-in is expected to deliver a speech at the Russian State Duma lower parliament house.
The South Korean leader also plans to visit Russia’s southern city of Rostov-on-Don to support his country’s team that is to face Mexico in a 2018 FIFA World Cup group stage match.
It will be Moon Jae-in’s first visit to Russia after his taking the presidential office in May 2017 and the first state visit by a South Korean president to Russia since 1999.
Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as a common goal
Ahead of his visit to Russia, the South Korean president gave an exclusive interview to TASS First Deputy Director-General Mikhail Gusman for TASS, government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Rossiya-24 TV, sharing his plans for and expectations from the visit. Thus, in his words, he and Putin share a common goal of establishing peace and achieving a nuclear-free status of the Korean Peninsula.
"President Putin and I share the common goal of establishing peace and achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This will certainly lead to the enhanced economic development, and not only of the two Koreas," Moon Jae-in said.
He noted that as soon as the peaceful settlement is ensured on the Korean Peninsula the issue may be discussed on "establishing a multilateral mechanism of maintaining security" in the region. "We should be seeking this. I can confirm that Putin and I have a common goal and a shared vision and we are seeking this together," the South Korean leader said, noting that Russia has offered assistance here by supporting and implementing the UN Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea.
Peace and prosperity in Eurasia
The South Korean leader also said he and Putin have a shared vision on the prospects of building peace and achieving prosperity on the Eurasian continent.
"President [Putin] pursues his policy on developing Russia’s Far Eastern Region and Siberia, and my policy is aimed at developing cooperation with eastern countries, including with Russia. These policies have much in common. Russia is a very important partner for Korea for joint development in the future," he said.
The South Korean president also said that during the visit his country and Russia were planning to sign agreements on the comprehensive development of economic cooperation. "Our countries have established an intergovernmental commission that considers various economic cooperation issues," he said. "Documents that are being prepared may be signed during my visit to Russia." According to him, the process involves not only the two countries’ governments but interested organizations and private companies as well.
He said he had outlined priority areas of bilateral economic cooperation back in 2017. "They include railroads, gas industry, electricity production, the construction of port infrastructure facilities, agriculture, fishery, ship-building and so on," Moon Jae-in said.
He stressed the necessity of "focusing on the development of cooperation" with Russia in these very areas, adding that a committee on northern economic cooperation had been established under the presidential administration last year to address issues of economic cooperation with Russia.
The South Korean leader drew attention to the fact that bilateral trade had jumped up by 40% in 2017 on the previous year and reached 19 billion US dollars. "I believe that it is only the beginning," Moon Jae-in concluded.
The South Korean leader gave to understand that large-scale trilateral transport infrastructure and energy projects between Russia and the two Koreas might be among the topics of his talks in Russia.
"Russia and South Korea have huge potential as far as economic, humanitarian and cultural exchanges go. The potential has not been exhausted yet. We can involve North Korea in cooperation after lasting peace is established in the region," Moon Jae-in said.
By way of example, the South Korean president mentioned plans to connect the three countries’ railway networks that would make it possible to deliver goods to Russia and Europe via North Korea. "Once the Trans-Korean Main Line is built, it may be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway. In this case, it will be possible to deliver goods from South Korea to Europe, which would be