By Mikoto Hata / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent MOSCOW — The Mangyongbong, a North Korean cargo-passenger ship whose entry into Japan is banned, will serve as a regular ferry connecting North Korea and the Russian Far East region from May, according to sources.
This could strengthen the two nation’s economic relations and create a new loophole in sanctions against Pyongyang imposed by Japan, the United States and others. While the United States and other nations are stepping up pressure against North Korea as it engages in the development of missiles and nuclear weapons, Russia, which has friendly relations with Pyongyang, seems to have thrown it a lifeline.
According to a Russian ferry company, the Mangyongbong will make six round trips a month between Rajin, a port in the special economic zone of Rason in the northeastern part of North Korea, and Vladivostok in Russia. The ship is expected to set sail for the first time on May 8 and arrive in Vladivostok on May 9.
From Russia, such items as agricultural machine parts, seafood, animal feed and supplies for humanitarian aid are expected to be exported. Meanwhile, from North Korea, people who will work in Russia’s Far East and other locations are likely to use this ferry.
Kishida criticizes Russia
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida criticized Russia’s move during a press conference after the Cabinet meeting on Friday morning, saying: “We will ask Russia to act responsibly as a [permanent] member of the U.N. Security Council.”Speech