MOSCOW — Russia is seeking closer economic ties with North Korea in an effort to develop its backward Far East and counter America’s strategic shift toward Asia.
Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev traveled to Pyongyang last week, becoming the highest-ranking Russian official to visit since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un succeeded his late father.
Trutnev, a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, serves as presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District. While in North Korea, he met with Kim Yong Nam, the nominal head of state, and Premier Pak Pong Ju, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. They discussed plans for a pipeline through the country to carry Russian natural gas to South Korea and a rail corridor spanning the Korean Peninsula, as well as Russian investment in North Korean mining.
Trutnev also proposed holding a conference in Russia to promote three-way economic cooperation, an idea in which Pyongyang showed interest.