NORTH KOREA NEEDS SECURITY GUARANTEES-RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY

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MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) - To prevent a nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang should be given security guarantees and create external conditions to encourage its economic and social development, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov. He spoke today at a Moscow ceremony to mark 56 years since the foundation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Russo-Korean interaction has become instrumental in maintaining peace and security in the region," Saltanov said. According to him, Moscow and Pyongyang both want the Korean Peninsula to be a nuclear-free zone, and are working together to achieve progress in the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

The old traditions of friendship between Russia and North Korea were consolidated in the 2000 Treaty and in top-level agreements reached in Pyongyang, Moscow and Vladivostok, noted the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister. "I am certain that thanks to personal attention on the part of the Russian President and the Chairman of the State Defense Committee of the DPRK, Kim Jong-il, the mutually beneficial relations between our two countries will be given new momentum," he said.

Saltanov went on to voice support for Pyongyang's efforts to promote intra-Korean dialogue, foster contacts with the South, and create an atmosphere of peace and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking at today's ceremony, North Korean Ambassador Pak Ui Chun expressed his government's solidarity with Russia in its anti-terrorist efforts. He expressed confidence that Russia would be successful in consolidating its multiethnic society and preserving its territorial integrity.

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