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Korean FM to visit Russia next week

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will visit Moscow next week for talks with his Russian counterpart on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and other issues, his ministry said Tuesday.

Yun will head to the Russian capital on Sunday for a two-day trip and meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the following day, ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said in a press briefing.

It will be Yun's first official visit to Russia since he took office in early 2013 and the first such visit by a South Korean foreign minister in five years. President Park Geun-hye has yet to make an official visit to the country.

"The ministers will hold in-depth talks on ways to promote the two countries' friendly cooperative ties, the issues of North Korea and its nuclear program, and the political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region," Cho said.

Russia, one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, has been a key stakeholder in efforts to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program. It is also a member of the now-stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear program.

The spokesman said Yun's visit to Moscow will serve as an opportunity to put further pressure on the regime in Pyongyang amid indications some of its closest allies -- Iran, Uganda and Cuba -- are joining Seoul in its calls for denuclearization.

Monday's talks are also expected to touch on the possible deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system to South Korea. Russia and China have expressed strong opposition to the idea, claiming it would undermine the strategic balance in the region.

Cho reiterated Seoul's position that the deployment of a THAAD battery, should it take place, would have no effect on the security interests of neighboring countries. (Yonhap)

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