|North Korea's Air Koryo freight plane parked at Noi Bai International Airport in Vietnam's capital of Hanoi, on Feb. 24. Yonhap|
By Lee Min-hyung
North Korea wants to buy new Russian passenger planes to improve safety on air routes between Pyongyang and Vladivostok, according to reports in Russia.
Sergei Neverov, who recently led a Russian parliamentary delegation to Pyongyang, said the North's foreign ministry had shown interest in buying the Russian planes, Russian news agency TASS reported Sunday.
"At a meeting at the North Korean foreign ministry, we touched upon the issue of civil aviation and flight safety," the agency quoted the deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house as saying.
"We maintain air service between Pyongyang and Vladivostok and, naturally, we would like to see more advanced and safer planes serving this route."
He also underlined the need for Russia to continue holding talks with the North.
"We believe that such dialogue must be maintained because civil aviation is beyond the United Nations Security Council's actions on Pyongyang," he said.
The remark reflects tough international economic sanctions imposed on the North. Over the past year, the North has sought partial sanctions relief by pledging to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and to stop any nuclear or missile provocations.
But with recent nuclear negotiations between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ending in failure, chances have become slimmer that sanctions against the North will be eased.
The Russian lawmaker said the possible introduction of new Russian planes was also be in the interest of Russian passengers as well as those from Pyongyang and Beijing.
The delegation was invited to the North's capital to mark the 70th anniversary of economic and cultural cooperation agreements between the Soviet Union and the North, TASS said.