September 18, 2012 13:59
Russia, North Korea sign deal on $11 bln debt
MOSCOW. Sept 18 (Interfax) - Russia and North Korea signed an agreement on Monday to settle Pyongyang's $11 billion debt, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Interfax.
Storchak said earlier that the Russian Finance Ministry planned to submit a draft order to the government in June on the signing of an agreement to settle North Korea's debt. Storchak held debt negotiations with the North Korean Finance Ministry from May 31 to June 2.
As a result of the negotiations, the amount of the debt and conditions remained unchanged, Storchak said at the time, referring to the $11 billion owed by North Korea on loans provided by the former Soviet Union. "Classic terms [of relief - ed.], related to our participation in the Paris Club, conversion into dollars at the appropriate exchange rate, then an initial discount, and the balance of the debt is used in 'debt for aid' operations," Storchak said.
He said the balance amounts to about $1 billion, and added that the aid would be provided in the electricity sector, healthcare and education.
Russia and North Korea resumed negotiations to settle the debt in 2011 after a long break. Prior to 2007, the countries could not agree on an arrangement to pay off the debt. Russia did not rule out the possibility of writing off part of the debt and allowing the balance to be paid off in instalments or in the form of investment.
In August 2011, Russian and North Korean leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Kim Jong-il met in Ulan-Ude and worked out approaches to settling the North Korean debt problem.
At that time, Storchak said that debt amounts to $11 billion. The loans were extended in Soviet rubles at an exchange rate of 0.60 rubles per U.S. dollar.
Storchak also told Interfax on Tuesday that there has not been any progress on the issue of Russia extending a loan to Cyprus. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said earlier that a decision on providing a loan to Cyprus would not be made in the near future.
A Finance Ministry representative told Interfax at the beginning of September that Russia and Cyprus are continuing talks on a possible loan of EUR5 billion to Cyprus. This was preceded by reports by a number of publications in Cyprus that the Russian government had agreed to extend a loan of EUR5 billion to the country, though the Cypriot authorities did not officially confirm this information.
Cyprus asked Russia for a loan of EUR5 billion at the beginning of July. Cyprus has already received one Russian loan: the countries signed an agreement on December 23, 2011 to provide Cyprus with a EUR2.5-billion loan at 4.5% pa for a period of 4.5 years in three tranches.
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