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Lee, Medvedev to cooperate on gas pipeline venture

By Jiyeon Lee, CNN
November 3, 2011 -- Updated 1128 GMT (1928 HKT)
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev at the Russian-South Korean forum.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev at the Russian-South Korean forum.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The gas pipeline project will run between the two nations through North Korea
  • They could discuss the possibility of supplying the South with surplus Russian electricity
  • North and South Korea relations have been strained since Pyongyang launched attacks on South Korea

Seoul (CNN) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev pledged to cooperate on a gas pipeline project that will run between the two nations through North Korea, according to Seoul's presidential office.

"The two leaders shared an understanding that the project to deliver Russian natural gas through a pipeline via North Korea, if pushed forward successfully, will bring economic benefits to all three countries and agreed to cooperate closely to realize this," the South's presidential office said in a statement after a meeting in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

An official from Russia's state-run gas firm Gazprom announced Monday that it had reached an agreement with its South Korean counterpart Korea Gas Corp. in September to begin construction of the pipeline in 2013 and start supplying gas to the South in 2017, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

There has been concern in South Korea about the potential security risks that come with the involvement of North Korea in the project. The relationship between North and South Korea has been strained since Pyongyang launched two attacks on South Korea last year.

Medvedev promised to cooperate with Seoul to reduce the dangers and work to bring North Korea back to multilateral talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear program.

The two leaders agreed that if the unknown risks can be addressed, they can also discuss the possibility of supplying the South with surplus electricity from Russia.

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