News / Asia

    Russia Forgives North Korean Debt

    FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin at event in St. Petersburg, June 5, 2014.FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin at event in St. Petersburg, June 5, 2014.
    x
    FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin at event in St. Petersburg, June 5, 2014.
    FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin at event in St. Petersburg, June 5, 2014.
    VOA News
    Analysts say Moscow's decision to forgive most of North Korea's debt is aimed at clearing a path through the secretive state for a natural gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin last month forgave 90 percent of North Korea's $11 billion debt. He also allowed Pyongyang to use payments on its remaining debt balance for health, education and energy programs of its own.

    Several experts say they believe this is an attempt by Russia to win favor with North Korea to get a pipeline agreement.

    Scott Snyder, director of the Program on U.S. Korea Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, said this is something Russia has long wanted. He said it was discussed "back in 2011 between then [Russian] President [Dmitry] Medvedev and [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il.”

    Synder added that it was again discussed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Park Geun-hye at a summit late last year. “So I think that there is interest on both the Russian and the South Korean sides in doing something,” he said.

    International Investment Strategist Tom Elliot at the deVere Group's London office said the Russians are “very serious” about making this happen.

    “You saw the keenness with which Putin followed up on a very long standing idea with China," Elliot said, adding that Beijing and Moscow reached an “agreement last month on running a gas pipeline into China.”

    Elliott also explained how Russian efforts to find new energy markets accelerated after the West's negative reaction to the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea and current tensions in eastern Ukraine.

    Snyder says North Korea also had motivations of its own to work with Russia on the debt issue, which has lingered since the fall of the Soviet Union. 

    This is "a way of clearing out the underbrush in order to draw in more Russian investment to North Korea,” he said.

    North Korea only agreed to a repayment plan after Russia offered debt forgiveness and said payments on the balance could be spent by Pyongyang on domestic infrastructure programs.

    According to various reports, North Korea's Soviet-era debt would be worth $238 million if valued at the current market price. But according to Elliott, North Korea agreed to the higher valuation in hopes of attracting future foreign investment.

    Elliott explained, “If you're a country that actually wants to encourage international investment to grow ... you don’t want to be seen as buying up your debt on what’s called the secondary market at two cents on the dollar.” He said doing that "is considered very poor etiquette, indeed.”

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Kimchi Law Blog from: South Korea
    June 19, 2014 2:42 AM
    Of course having 90% of your loan written-off isn't exactly stellar for investor confidence, but a win is a win....

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.