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Russia, N. Korea To Revise Treaty

October 31, 1999

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Russia and North Korea next week will overhaul a decades-old treaty that calls for Russian military backing for communist North Korea in the event of a war, a South Korean official said Sunday.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is expected to visit North Korea Nov. 8-11 to sign a new cooperation treaty that emphasizes trade but excludes a military alliance.

For several years, Russia has sought to rewrite the treaty, which was signed shortly after the Korean War. The 1950-53 conflict pitted Soviet- and Chinese-backed North Korea against South Korea and U.N. troops, most of them Americans.

Relations between Moscow and North Korea have chilled since the former Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1990.

Cold War tension persists on the Korean peninsula, which is divided by a heavily fortified border since the two Koreas have still not formally signed a peace treaty.

Ivanov’s visit to North Korea would be the first by a Russian foreign minister since Eduard Shevardnadze’s 1990 trip.

Ivanov and his North Korean counterpart, Paik Nam Sun, are expected to discuss Washington’s plan to build an anti-missile defense system in Northeast Asia, said a South Korean foreign ministry official who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

The so-called U.S. theater missile defense system is intended to protect ships and troops from regional threats, mostly from short- and medium-range missiles.

North Korea rattled the region by firing a multistage missile over Japan and into the Pacific last year.

It reportedly has developed a more powerful missile which some U.S. experts say could reach Hawaii and Alaska.

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