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Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Seoul Feb. 26-28 for a summit meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung — their third meeting since Putin became president but the first visit by an acting Russian president to South Korea in eight years.
Among the key topics of the summit will be defining Russia’s role in inter-Korean dialogue and North Korea’s missile program, according to STRATFOR, the global intelligence company.
Moscow seeks a niche in the inter-Korean dialogue and in the international community. Thus far, Russia has had little of substance to offer to the Koreas other than access to its Trans-Siberian railway. Yet, Moscow was the first to reveal North Korea’s offer to suspend its missile program in return for international assistance in launching satellites. Putin may be planning to use the upcoming summit to take the North Korean offer a step further — by proposing trilateral cooperation to launch North Korean satellites.
Russia has made several attempts to insert itself in the inter-Korean dialogue. Putin visited Pyongyang in July 2000, during which North Korean leader Kim Jong Il floated the idea of suspending North Korea’s long-range missile program in return for foreign assistance in satellite launches.