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Russia, North Korea 'struggling' with sanctions, Moscow official says

By
Elizabeth Shim
Russian Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East Alexander Kozlov (R) met with North Korean officials (not pictured) on Wednesday in Moscow. File Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/EPA-EFE
Russian Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East Alexander Kozlov (R) met with North Korean officials (not pictured) on Wednesday in Moscow. File Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, March 6 (UPI) -- Russia and North Korea are cooperating more closely following the breakdown of talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Russian and North Korean officials met to discuss economic exchange as well as the sharing of science knowledge in Moscow on Wednesday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

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Alexander Kozlov, minister for the development of the Russian Far East, and his delegation met with their North Korean counterparts at the President Hotel in the Russian capital. North Korea sent railroad and fisheries officials; Kim Hyong Jun, Pyongyang's ambassador to Russia, led the delegation.

The meeting lasted more than two hours. The two sides are seeking to expand trade and cooperate on transportation.

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Russia hosts more than 10,000 North Korean guest workers, and said in February there are plans to repatriate all laborers by the end of 2019.

During the meeting on Wednesday, Kozlov did not reconfirm those plans, according to Yonhap.

In December 2017, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2397, following North Korea's launch of the Hwasong-15, an intercontinental ballistic missile. The resolution tightened North Korea sanctions, including the ability of North Korean citizens to work abroad.

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Kozlov said at the meeting the two countries are "struggling" with financial transactions because of sanctions. The Russian official made the statement during a press briefing after the talks.

Kozlov also said the two sides discussed a potential project to link the Russian Far East's Khasan station with the Tumen River station in North Korea.

Russia and North Korea have been negotiating the construction of a bridge since 2015.

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Moscow is signaling cooperation with North Korea, but it continues to remain opposed to nuclear weapons development.

Sputnik International reported the Russian ambassador to the United States said his country would never recognize Pyongyang as a nuclear state.

Anatoly Antonov said Monday Russia would like to see a "non-nuclear state" on the peninsula, according to the report.

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