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Russia's Medvedev eyes energy gains as he meets with North Korea's Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-il has reportedly agreed to return to six-party talks. Medvedev also got a go-ahead to use North Korea as a transit corridor for a natural gas pipeline to South Korea.

By Correspondent / August 24, 2011

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, second right, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, walk during a meeting in a military garrison, outside Ulan-Ude, Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Dmitry Astakhov/Presidential Press Service/RIA Novosti/AP

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North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-il has agreed with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to return, without conditions, to the stymied six-party talks on the country's nuclear weapons program, and to consider a moratorium on WMD development as part of an agreement to build a Russian gas pipeline through his isolated Stalinist state to South Korea.

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The deal, which is a potential foreign policy breakthrough for the Kremlin, came at a Siberian summit between the two leaders today, at the climax of one of Mr. Kim's rare excursions to Russia aboard his personal armored train.

The official ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Mr. Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, as saying that the agreement was reached amid a friendly meeting in Ulan Ude, near the shores of Siberia's Lake Baikal, which is about midway between Pyongyang and Moscow on the 10,000-km long Trans Siberian Railroad.

"[The North Koreans] confirmed their willingness to go back to the negotiations without preconditions," Ms. Timakova said according to ITAR-Tass. "In the course of the talks, North Korea will be ready to resolve the question of imposing a moratorium on tests and production of nuclear missile weapons."

In return, Russia got a conditional go-ahead for something it has long wanted: the use of North Korean territory as a transit corridor for a natural gas pipeline, and perhaps railroad connections, from Russia to the industrial powerhouse and far eastern ports of South Korea.

"As for gas cooperation, we have results. We’ve ordered our government bodies to establish a special commission to outline the details of bilateral cooperation on gas transit through the territory of North Korea and the joining of South Korea to the project," Medvedev told journalists.

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