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Russian president visits Seoul Feb.27-28

Posted February. 19, 2001 19:46,   


Korea and Russia planned to conclude a mutual military secrets protection agreement during Russian President Vladimir Putin` official visit to Seoul Feb. 27-28, but agreed to postpone it after Seoul voiced concerns that the measure could provoke North Korea, a government official disclosed Monday.

The official noted that during working-level talks, the two countries came to terms on a tourism pact as well as the military secrets safeguard agreement but that they decided to put off signing the military accord at Seoul`s request. The government was worried that the agreement might provoke a misunderstanding on Pyongyang`s part. The Korean position was recently endorsed by the Russian government, the official added.

The military secrets protection accord prohibits the sharing with third countries of military information on weapons and defense materials unless prior consent is granted.

Some government officials criticized the postponement, arguing that the agreement is only aimed at governing the introduction of defense materials and adding that delaying signing shows too much sensitivity to North Korea`s response.

The military secrets safeguard pact was signed by the South Korean and Russian defense ministers in Moscow in 1996. But the accord was invalidated because the Korean delegation that concluded the pact didn`t have proper credentials from the home government. The two governments have since renegotiated the agreement.

During his stay here, Russian President Putin is scheduled to hold a summit with President Kim Dae-Jung, deliver a speech at the National Assembly plenary session and attend an official luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Lee Han-Dong. He will have a separate lunch meeting with heads of the nation`s four major business organizations.

Boo Hyung-Kwon bookum90@donga.com