Moscow - South Korea has begun negotiations with Russia to join a free-trade zone linking five former Soviet states, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday after talks with his South Korean counterpart.
The Eurasian Economic Union currently comprises Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Israel was negotiating to join the bloc. Lavrov hailed talks with South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se as a step improving the countries' strategic partnership. Yun said the countries have been building economic ties in the automobile industry, as well as electronics, energy agriculture and medicine. He said the countries are also collaborating in the Arctic, the Russian Far East and Siberia.
The ministers also condemned the nuclearization of North Korea, an immediate threat to its southern neighbour on the Korean Peninsula. "We consider it unacceptable to turn this region into a zone of confrontation, as all problems should be settled through negotiations," Lavrov was quoted as saying.