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Russia, North Korea sign agreement to prevent 'dangerous military activities'

The two countries agreed that safety measures would need to be in place before either country begins military drills.

By Elizabeth Shim
Russia, North Korea sign agreement to prevent 'dangerous military activities'
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a draft agreement on the prevention of dangerous military activities between Moscow and Pyongyang last December, and on Thursday North Korea and Russia finalized the agreement. UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- North Korea and Russia reaffirmed ties on Thursday after reaching an agreement on preventing dangerous military activities.

Pyongyang's state-controlled media outlet KCNA reported several high-ranking officials were in attendance for the ceremony and the signing of the document, including Gen. O Kum Chol, vice chief of the Korean People's Army, Russia's First Deputy Chief of General Staff General Nikolai Bogdanovsky, and the Russian ambassador to Pyongyang. O and Bogdanovksy signed the agreement, Yonhap reported.

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Bogdanovsky had arrived in North Korea on Nov. 9, and his General Staff delegation reportedly met with their Pyongyang counterparts for several days to reaffirm old ties and to discuss ways to improve relations.

Last December, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a draft agreement on the prevention of dangerous military activities, and had instructed Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu to begin talks with North Korea, South Korea press reported.

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Medvedev had said the purpose of the agreement was to reaffirm bilateral ties and also to quickly resolve incidents in a peaceful manner between the two militaries. The agreement includes rules for dealing with tensions that may inevitably arise from mistakes, coping with casualties as well as "property damages" incurred in the proximity of the other country's army.

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Russia and North Korea agreed that safety measures would need to be in place before either country begins military activities, such as firing practice, so foreign soldiers at any nearby military garrison are not in harm's way. Incidents resulting from friendly fire would need to be resolved peacefully, according to the agreement.

Russia and North Korea have a long history of partnership, but relations declined after glasnost and the dismantling of the Soviet Union. By 1995, as North Korea began to experience a cataclysmic famine, Russian authorities arrested two North Korean heroin dealers at a memorial in Russia called the "Kim Il Sung House," built in 1986 in commemoration of Russia-North Korea ties.

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Voice of America reported on Friday the one-story structure, located in Primorsky Krai, a region in Russia's Far East, was completely destroyed in a fire early Thursday.

Russian authorities said foul play is not suspected.

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