Outcome of the ROK-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Held on the Sidelines of a CICA Meeting

On the sidelines of the fifth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Beijing, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met bilaterally with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia on April 28. In their meeting, the two top diplomats discussed in depth the way forward for the Republic of Korea-Russia relations and ways to respond to repeated provocations from North Korea. 

The two Foreign Ministers voiced deep concern over North Korea’s repeated provocations in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2270 and especially its possibility to engage in further strategic provocations ahead of the Workers’ Party Congress in May. They drew a common understanding that the international community should respond more sternly to such violations. 

Minister Yun extended appreciation to Russia for expressing its strong refusal to accept under any circumstances North Korea’s claim that it is a nuclear state and for playing an active role as a permanent member of the Security Council in the lead-up to the Security Council’s adoption of a press statement over North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile on April 15 and another over its test launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). 

In addition, Minister Yun asked Russia to work closely with the ROK in ensuring the implementation of the Security Council resolution as well as in deterring and responding to further provocations from North Korea. In response, Minister Lavrov brought renewed attention to the need for the Security Council to respond immediately, should North Korea engage in another provocation. 

With regard to the ROK-Russia relations, the two Ministers took note of robust high-level exchanges, including the summit talks in November 2015 and the National Assembly Speaker’s attendance at the meeting of parliament speakers of Eurasian countries in Moscow, and agreed to reinforce the momentum. 

Minister Yun brought attention to the fact that despite the particularly difficult economic situations domestically and internationally, the largest-ever number of 300,000 people from the ROK and Russia engaged in people-to-people exchanges in 2015, and suggested that the two countries work to continue this streak. 

The two Ministers shared the view that the ROK and Russia are the best partners for development cooperation in Russia’s Far East region. They agreed to have the deputy prime minister-level joint economic committee and other consultative channels actively seek and implement mutually-beneficial cooperation projects in such sectors as agriculture, livestock industry, fisheries, healthcare and medical service. 

The ROK-Russia Foreign Ministers’ meeting on April 28, which came merely two months after one held in Munich in February, served as an opportunity to seek continued cooperation with Russia, a member of the Six-Party Talks and permanent member of the Security Council, amid repeated provocations from North Korea; and to reinforce the momentum of high-level exchanges and growing substantive cooperation between the ROK and Russia. 

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