Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Pyongyang and Seoul sometime this week. Since it is likely that Lavrov will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the South Korean government expects his visit to Seoul to provide an opportunity to find out North Korea's position following its launch of a long-range rocket and expulsion of nuclear inspectors.
Lavrov is scheduled to visit Pyongyang for two days either on Thursday or Friday and then come to Seoul, a diplomatic source said. He will stay in Seoul for just one day.
In July 2004, amid another stalemate in the six-party talks, Lavrov visited both Koreas, delivering a letter from former Russian president Vladimir Putin to Kim and proposing a three-way foreign ministerial meeting among North Korea, South Korea and Russia. Diplomats speculate Lavrov is again making the trip to break the current impasse.
MOSCOW -- Russia says its foreign minister will this week visit North Korea, which has acrimoniously withdrawn from international nuclear negotiations.
Sergey Lavrov's two-day visit starting Thursday is expected to focus on efforts to reverse Pyongyang's withdrawal from the so-called six-party talks. North Korea took the decision citing U.N. Security Council criticism of its rocket launch on April 5.
A ministry statement said only that Lavrov's visit would focus on "relevant international problems that represent mutual interest."
North Korea's relations are not as close with Russia as they were during Soviet times, but the two sides maintain cordial ties. Moscow is a member of the six-party talks aimed at the North's denuclearization and usually avoids openly criticizing Pyongyang.
Azerbaijan, Baku, April 20 /Trend News, E.Tariverdiyeva/
Russia may become a successful mediator through activating efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"Moscow is a key to resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. If Russia puts enough pressure to the Armenian side, we would have some quicker result that we have so far," European expert for the South Caucasus Amanda Akcakoca said.
The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev discussed with the Russian Federation's President Dmitry Medevedev ways of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement within the working visit to Russia on April 16-17. After talks Aliyev thanked Russia for attempts to solve Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
"Russia is trying to reach maximum progress in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Medvedev said after the meeting with Azerbaijani President.
On April 23, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan will also visit Russia, the Kremlin reported. The visit will take place at the invitation of Russian President.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Baku appreciates Moscow's efforts to resolve the conflict.
"Azerbaijani President's visit to Russia, successful talks and various discussions related to settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict give us Azerbaijan optimism regarding settlement of the conflict," Chief of the International Relations Department of the President's Office Novruz Mammadov told Trend News.
Russia can fulfill historic mission in settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he said. "Character, content of multilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, co-chairmanship of Russia in Minsk group, very strong impact and probable Russia's pressure on Armenia as an ally and necessity in restoration of stability in the region give grounds to consider that Russia will be able to fulfill its historic duty," Mammadov said.
Moscow's willing to participate in settlement of prolonged conflict is positive trend that can lead to its settlement, the supervisors said.
Moscow's efforts may accelerate the process of solution the conflict. In a light of recent development Russia tries to demonstrate that it wants that it can be serious and reliable partner in the region and trying to bring a solution to this conflict. But what I would say - that would suit its own interests and that would take into consideration Moscow's security interests in particular in South Caucasus region," Akcakoca told Trend News.
Moscow is interested side in settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan Azerbaijani expert Tofig Abbasov said.
There was a moment when the Kremlin tried to rule the region via hot conflicts, he said. "But this stake did not justify itself. Moscow condemns its ally - Armenia for blockade state, Leader Media-Holding analytic group expert Abbasov told Trend News. Presently, Russia demonstrates decisiveness in overcoming consequences of its blunders and tries to protect Yerevan from the West where diaspora constantly pushes it."
This visit and agreements achieved during the visit are sure not to harm negotiation process, Russian politician Azer Mursaliyev said. "Theoretically, certain progress is possible in settlement of conflict," editor-in-chief of Kommersant newspaper Mursaliyev told Trend News over phone from Moscow.
Moscow's activity is stipulated by willing of the Kremlin to be key player in the region, the analysts said.
Moscow is trying to make itself a key player in resolving Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Akcakoca said.
The activity in the negotiation process between Moscow and the two South Caucasus countries, involved in the protracted territorial conflict, demonstrates that Russia is seriously considering creating a new geopolitical configuration in the region, Abbasov said..
"Russian diplomacy has finally realized that it will benefit nothing positive from the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, said Abbasov.
The conflict needs to be unblocked, so that frozen and potentially lucrative economic leverage with participation of Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian capital to benefit, said the expert.
Armenia is underproductive side for Russia, while Azerbaijan is not only an attractive country but also it is perspective. "Moscow may benefit from Azerbaijan's energy, transport and other sectors for its economy and geopolitical purposes," Abbasov said.