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Ivanov Promotes Korean Reconciliation

The Russian foreign minister travels to North Korea Sunday in a bid to promote reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.

The visit by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is designed to foster better relations between North and South Korea. The visit comes as North Korea is showing signs that it may be willing to end the political deadlock with South Korea.

On Thursday, North Korea issued a rare statement of regret over a naval battle last month between North and South Korea. At least four South Korean soldiers were killed in the incident, although it is not known how many North Korean soldiers died.

Then on Friday, Pyongyang said it was willing to accept a visit by a U.S. envoy, a move that was welcomed by U.S. officials.

Mr. Ivanov travels to North Korea from South Korea, where he met with the president, Kim Dae-jung. During the meeting, he praised the president for trying to engage North Korea in political talks.

In a news conference in Seoul, Mr. Ivanov said Russia did not want to be a mediator in the North-South conflict. But he said Moscow would help both sides improve relations.

Russia has traditionally had good relations with North Korea and would like to use its influence to improve the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Pyongyang in 2000. The next year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled to Russia.

For the North Korean leader it was a rare visit outside his own country.