MOSCOW -- Officials from Russia, North Korea and South Korea will begin working-level meetings as early as Sept. 15 on a huge pipeline project linking South Korea to the Russian Far East.
Although some South Korean officials have doubted the feasibility of the pipeline through North Korea, an executive of the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom said it could "lead to regional stabilization."
Choo Kang-soo, CEO of Korea Gas Corp., left for Russia on Sept. 14. A North Korean delegation led by Oil Industry Minister Kim Hui Yong left Pyongyang for Russia on Sept. 13, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The Gazprom vice president said Sept. 13 that the three-party talks were expected to start soon.
In August, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave the go-ahead for the project, which would link the Korean Peninsula to Russia's new 1,800-kilometer pipeline from Sakhalin to Vladivostok via Khabarovsk.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has also supported the project, but some South Korean government officials are skeptical, citing security concerns and the very poor inter-Korean relationship.
The leverage Russia would gain by increasing its grip on energy supply to the Korean Peninsula would likely increase its say on regional security issues.
(This article was written by Hideki Soejima and Yoshihiro Makino.)
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