Finance minister leaves for Russia for regional economic forum

SEJONG-- South Korea's finance minister left for Russia's Far East city of Vladivostok Wednesday for a regional economic forum, his ministry said.

Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, is set to meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev and other participants on the sidelines of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum that will run from Wednesday through Friday, according to the ministry.

The two are expected to discuss ways to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries ahead of their economic meeting later this month.

The annual forum will bring together officials from several regional countries, including China, Japan and North Korea.

North Korea's Vice Premier Ri Ryong-nam is set to attend the forum, but the ministry said Hong has no specific plan to hold talks with Ri.

In February, Hong and Trutnev inked an action plan on so-called "nine bridges," referring to key areas of cooperation between the two countries, including shipbuilding, natural gas, railways, electricity, agriculture, Arctic shipping routes and fisheries.

The action plan also included a proposal for joint research among South, North Korea and Russia for economic cooperation on railways, natural gas and electricity in the event of North Korean denuclearization.

South Korea has long talked about linking its rail network to Russia's Siberian rail system via North Korea, which would cut shipping times and logistics costs for its Europe-bound exports.

Discussions on the project to connect the Siberian line with lines that can operate between the two Koreas have been under way for more than a decade, although no major progress has been made due to geopolitical obstacles, particularly North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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