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Tue, 06/23/2015 - 17:12
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Top Russian lawmaker concerned about slow progress in trade with North Korea

MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. Russia's top lawmaker, Valentina Matviyenko, on Tuesday expressed her concern about slow progress in trade and economic cooperation with North Korea. "Despite recent positive developments, progress in our trade and economic cooperation has not assumed an irreversible character yet," said Matviyenko, who is the chair of the Russian parliament’s upper chamber. She told Choe Thae-Bok, the chairman of the North's Supreme People's Assembly, that "the current downward trend in trade turnover gives cause for concern". There were some positive moments, for example, agreement to settlements in Russian roubles, she said, noting however that real trade turnover between the two states had fallen in recent years. "Building economic relations today, we should understand that they should be based on mutually beneficial market principles," Matviyenko said, noting the need to take into account that "the Russian government cannot force company officials and business representatives to go to a place where they see no benefit." The lawmaker stressed also that while settling the issue of North Korea’s debt to Russia, the governments of the two countries "created an important prerequisite for further development" of bilateral cooperation. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law forgiving 90 percent of the North's debt to Moscow from the Soviet era, paving way for stronger ties between the two states. The remainder, worth about $1 billion, will be spent on projects in education, healthcare and energy sectors, Matviyenko said. Choe promised to assemble heads of the country’s economic agencies on his return to Pyongyang to discuss issues raised at the meeting, in particular economic problems. "This meeting has once again confirmed Russia’s strong determination to take our economic ties to the level of our political relations", he said. Read more