NEW PHASE IN SPACE EXPLORATION

(Abridged)

by Kim Se-jeong

Staff Reporter

The Korea Times

 

The first Korean astronaut is a positive sign for cooperation between Korea and Russia in space exploration and development, the Russian Ambassador said, congratulating Korean astronaut Ko San.

 

We are very glad in that Korea has opted for Russia as a partner in space exploration flight. It comes from trust of the Korean government and Russian technology, Gleb A. Ivashentsov, Russian ambassador said to The Korea Times during an interview.

 

Ko San is to go on the Russian spacecraft, Soyuz to the International Space Station in April next year, and to conduct 18 scientific experiments. The Korean Astronaut Project Division staff said the project would help expand Korean horizons in space development, especially in its partnership with Russia, with whom it has already been cooperating in rocket development.

 

Russia is a pioneer in space exploration as the first earth satellite, The Sputnik was launched in 1957. The first astronaut, Yuri Gagarin journeyed into space in April 1961. He was also the first to orbit the earth.

 

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Russia is the largest country in the world with territory totaling 17,075,200 square kilometers. Most of the territory - the far eastern area known as Siberia- has stayed undeveloped, and that's where the ambassador said Russia would want foreign investment.

 

Siberia is a lot of natural resources like oil, gas, metals, coals and everything. If we develop this resource, it will change, to a great extent, the whole economy of Asia, Ivashentsov said, To implement that task, we need cooperation among our regional neighbors. In this sense, we welcome the participation of Korean companies in the development of energy and other resources in the eastern Siberia.

 

The two governments agreed in October 2006 to build pipelines which would deliver natural gas directly to Korea. The ambassador said the Korean investment in energy would become more profitable when the pipeline project is completed.

 

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Also in areas like the petrochemical and automobile industries, Russia wants to see more Korean investors involved, the ambassador said.

 

Historically and geographically Russia and Korea have been predestined to settle many common issues by joint efforts, Ivashentsov said. The six-party talks are a good example of joint efforts, and the ambassador assured that to achieve stability and peace in North East Asia, North Korea should stay a nuclear-free nation.

 

When asked about its bilateral relationship with North Korea, the ambassador answered that Russia and North Korea had signed a Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighborliness and Cooperation in February 2000 as a mirror of their current relationship.

 

The treaty includes provisions of cooperation in trade, the economy, science and technology, national security and peace, the ambassador said. []

 

The ambassador advocated the regime's sovereignty, denouncing the Western nations who insist the regime be brought down completely.

 

It is a sovereign and independent state and it is the people of North Korea who are to decide what kind of regime they'd like to have in their country. We think that any interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign and independent country that is member of the U.N. is unacceptable, Ivashentsov said.

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skim@koreatimes.co.kr