DPRK, Russia to hold joint drill-media

Updated: 2011-09-13 10:14


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TOKYO - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Russia are set to hold their first joint defence drill as early as this year in an attempt to balance the United States, Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan's influence on the Korean peninsula, the Asahi newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Members of the two neighbours' navies and air forces will take part in a joint rescue exercise at sea, following an agreement reached last month by DPRK leader Kim Jong-il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Japan's Asahi said.

It is rare for the DPRK to conduct defence drills with other militaries. Japan and ROK are likely to keep an eye on the exercise, though it not expected to involve the use of weapons, the Asahi reported.

Pyongyang has been making conciliatory moves in recent months.Those have raised hopes that Six-Party Talks could resume, with Moscow and Beijing supporting such a move.

But Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are wary and have called for a restart only when Pyongyang takes concrete steps to disable its atomic programme such as allowing foreign nuclear inspectors into the country.

The United States and Seoul last year held large-scale joint military exercises to which Japan sent its naval officers as observers.

Moscow was Pyongyang's main ally for decades, giving military and economic support before the Soviet Union collapsed.

Kim promised Medvedev when they met in Siberia last month that he would consider suspending nuclear arms tests and production if the Six-Party Talks resumed.