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President Moon to get first state visit to Russia in 19 years

June 09,2018
President Moon Jae-in will embark on a three-day state visit to Russia from June 21 to 23 during which he will have a summit with President Vladimir Putin, the Blue House said Friday.

Moon’s visit, which comes at the invitation of President Putin, is the first state visit by a Korean president in 19 years. The last state visit to Russia was by former President Kim Dae-jung in 1999.

A state visit is the highest level offered to visiting foreign leaders and involves more pomp and protocol. Lesser forms are official visits, working visits and private visits.

“President Moon will have a summit meeting and official banquet with Putin to explore ways for forward-looking bilateral relations,” said Blue House Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

During the three-day visit, Moon will deliver a speech before the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of the Federal Assembly, the first time this will happen since the two nations opened diplomatic relations in 1990.

At the summit, Moon will discuss with Putin ways to nurture joint development for shared prosperity and growth of the Eurasia continent, the presidential office said.

“The two leaders also will discuss North Korea’s denuclearization and a peace settlement for the Korean Peninsula,” said the spokesman.

Moon is expected to discuss with Putin potential economic projects that could come around should economic sanctions on North Korea be lifted and the North accepts foreign investments after it follows through on promises of denuclearization.

One of the inter-Korean projects the Moon government is eyeing is reconnecting railroads along the inter-Korean border under the Moon administration’s so-called “New Northern Policy.” Once re-connected, the railroads could transport goods and personnel well beyond North Korea, putting an end to South Korea’s geographical isolation as a virtual island.

On Thursday, South Korea gained long-awaited membership into the Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD), of which North Korea is a founding member. Seoul’s full OSJD membership could pave the way for the country to link its railroads to mainland Asia and as far as the continent of Europe.

Spokesman Kim said Moon expects economic cooperation with Russia to be expanded. “We also hope the summit meeting will be an occasion to further strengthen bilateral communication and cooperation to set in place peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon will attend the Korean national soccer team’s second Russian World Cup match with Mexico in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don on May 23, the last day of the visit. He will return to Seoul following the match.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]