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South Korea urges Russia to halt military cooperation with N Korea

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SEOUL: South Korea summoned Russia's ambassador to warn Moscow against any military cooperation with North Korea on Tuesday after last week's summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Vladimir Putin raised concerns about a possible arms deal.

First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin summoned Russia's ambassador in Seoul to urge "Russia to immediately halt any moves to expand military cooperation with North Korea and to abide by (UN) Security Council Resolutions," South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Chang said Russia should live up to its role as a member of the UN Security Council to address North Korea's nuclear threat, and added that any actions that threaten its security would seriously undermine Russia's relationship with South Korea.

South Korea "will cooperate with the international community to take strong action to ensure that there are clear consequences, and that such actions will have a very negative impact on Korea-Russia relations," Chang said, according to a statement from South Korea's foreign ministry.

Seoul's message comes after North Korean leader Kim was presented with options for military cooperation at Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome space centre last week, at a time when Russia is pressing its invasion of Ukraine and North Korea races to advance its nuclear programmes.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is in New York this week and is expected to give a keynote speech when he attends the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20.

Local news media outlets reported that Yoon will deliver a message about possible military exchanges between Pyongyang and Moscow.

Washington and Seoul officials have expressed concern that Moscow could be seeking to acquire ammunition from the North to prop up its dwindling stocks, while Pyongyang gets technological aid over its spy satellite and missile programmes.

Experts have warned the two countries might have been looking to do a deal involving Pyongyang supplying artillery shells and anti-tank missiles in exchange for satellite technology from Moscow.

Relations between the North and South are at one of their lowest points in decades, with diplomacy stalled and North Korean leader Kim calling for increased weapons development.

Experts say any deal between Moscow and Pyongyang could force the South to review its careful balancing act on the Ukraine war -- which Seoul has condemned.

South Korea is a major weapons exporter but longstanding domestic policy prevents it from selling weapons into active conflicts. — Agencies

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