25 Aug 2011

Resumption of international talks wanted by North Korea

6:43 am on 25 August 2011

Russia says North Korea wants to return to international talks on its nuclear programme.

Russian media report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told President Dmitri Medvedev his country was ready to discuss ending nuclear tests if six-party talks on denuclearisation resume.

The BBC reports the meeting between the two took place at a military base, near Siberia's eastern mountains, some 5,550km east of Moscow.

It is Mr Kim's first visit to Russia since 2002.

''Kim Jong-il expressed readiness to return to six-party talks without preconditions,'' said spokeswoman Natalya Timakova.

''In the course of the talks the North Koreans will be ready to resolve the issue of imposing a moratorium on testing and production of missile and nuclear weaponry.''

Pyongyang walked out of six-party talks with South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia in 2009 and conducted its second nuclear test soon after.

The pair also discussed Russian plans for a pipeline that would pass through the North's territory to South Korea.

Gazprom, has reportedly been working for years on a deal for the pipeline, which would stretch more than 1,700km.

South Korean media reports that the deal could be worth up to $US100 million annually in transit handling fees for the North.

However, the BBC reports it would also give Pyongyang de facto control over a key energy supply to the South.

Mr Kim arrived in an armoured train in the border town of Khasan in the Russian Far East on Saturday.

On the eve of Mr Kim's visit, Moscow announced it was providing 50,000 tons of wheat to Pyongyang.