Russian, North Korean leaders agree on Soviet debt plan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reached a “common approach” on Pyongyang’s Soviet-era debts on Wednesday, a Russian delegation source said.

Medvedev and Kim met in Ulan-Ude, in East Siberia’s Buryatia Region earlier in the day.

“The leaders agreed on an approach toward solving this issue,” the source said.

Renewed talks on the issue had been going on for around six weeks, the source added.

“The Russian delegation thinks that the fact that these talks have been renewed is a significant breakthrough toward solving this issue.”

The talks involve North Korea’s $11 billion debt to Russia from the Soviet era, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak said on Wednesday.

He also said that North Korea should first recognize Russia as a successor state of the Soviet Union. Then the two states need to recalculate the sum of the loan, which was issued in Soviet rubles at the exchange rate of 0.6 rubles per $1.

Only then the two countries may launch negotiations “on how to repay the resulting sum.”

Moscow sees the loan as one of the factors that hinder trade and economic cooperation between the two states.

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