Monday, September 26, 2011

Russia signs North, South Korea pipeline deals

MOSCOW - The energy chiefs of North and South Korea signed draft deals on Sept. 15 with Gazprom to funnel Russian natural gas across the peninsula under a project long-abandoned because of its political risks.

The Kremlin hopes the lucrative multi-billion-dollar link will unite the two Koreas in a common cause at a time of flaring tensions and afford Russia the prestige of acting as peacemaker in a conflicted region.

But analysts warn that much depends on the good will of the Stalinist state's leadership and its commitment not to use the pipeline as blackmail against the South.

Gazprom said in separate statements that its chief Alexei Miller held talks on Sept. 15 with North Korea's Oil Minister Kim Hui-Yong and the South's Korea Gas Corp (Kogas) president Choo Kang-Soo.

The first round of talks with the North's Kim concluded with the signature of a memorandum of understanding while the second with Choo produced a "roadmap" for future gas deliveries to the South.

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