Zachary Zeck
The Diplomat
April 23, 2014

On Friday Russia’s parliament voted to write off roughly 90 percent of North Korea’s debt as Moscow seeks to build a gas pipeline through the Hermit Kingdom.

Credit: James T M Towill
Credit: James T M Towill

This weekend Reuters reported that Russia’s Duma voted to write off roughly $10 billion worth of the debt that North Korea owes Moscow from the days of the Soviet Union. The vote ratified an agreement made in September 2012, after a meeting between then-President Dmitry Medvedev and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Siberia in the summer of 2011.

At the time the agreement was first announced, The Guardian reported, citing Russia’s Finance Minister Sergei Storchak, that Moscow would forgive “90% of the debt and reinvest $1bn as part of a debt-for-aid plan to develop energy, health care and educational projects in North Korea.” Russian experts hailed the agreement as a sign that North Korea’s leadership was looking to initiate market style reforms in the reclusive country.

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