Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country will send 50,000 tons of grain to North Korea to help it cope with food shortages after devastating floods.
Lavrov spoke to reporters Monday after a meeting with visiting South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan. The South Korean minister for foreign affairs and trade arrived in Moscow Sunday to discuss a wide range of topics, including the situation on the Korean peninsula and joint ventures with Russia.
The two officials said Moscow and Seoul favor a peaceful solution of the North Korean nuclear problem through political and diplomatic efforts. Lavrov said Moscow is discussing ways to overcome the current impasse in the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament with officials in Pyongyang. The last round of those talks was held in 2008 in China.
Russia's top diplomat also said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has a standing invitation to visit Russia again. Kim last visited Russia in 2002 when he met with then President Vladimir Putin in the eastern city of Vladivostok.
Lavrov told the news media Monday that he and the visiting South Korean official discussed tripartite economic projects, including the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea via North Korea, and an electric power line along the same route. He said leaders of all three countries would support these projects if their corporations strike a deal.
He said he and Kim also looked into the possibility of connecting the Korean Railway lines with the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Relations between the two Koreas deteriorated last year with Seoul blaming Pyongyang for the sinking of its warship in March and Pyongyang launching an artillery attack on a South Korean island. Fifty South Koreans were killed in the two incidents.