North Korean Leader Kim Backs Natural-Gas Pipeline, Russia Says

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, supports an agreement to build a natural-gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea via his communist state, the Russian envoy in Pyongyang said.

“All these existing agreements are supported by the new leadership in North Korea,” Russian Ambassador Valery Sukhinin said in a phone interview today from the North Korean capital. “Talks now are taking place between the parties implementing the project, from our side Gazprom, and from the North Korean side, the oil industry ministry.” OAO Gazprom is the state-run Russian gas-export monopoly.

Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, who died in December, agreed to the gas pipeline at a meeting in August with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev near the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude. Russia said the energy deal was part of efforts to win concessions on North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program.

South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy said in an interview yesterday he is “optimistic” that inducements offered by the U.S. and his country will persuade the new North Korean leader to hold fresh talks aimed at persuading the isolated regime to give up the capability to produce atomic weapons.

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