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Russia reopens ferry route to North Korea
October 16, 2017 / 8:01 PM / a month ago

Russia reopens ferry route to North Korea

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Sea trips between Vladivostok, Russia and isolated North Korea have resumed after a two-month break, with the transport of cargo, the RIA news agency reported on Monday, quoting the head of the company operating the route.

The North Korean-flagged Mangyonbong left the Russian port for North Korea’s Rajin on Sunday, RIA said, citing the company’s director general, Vladimir Baranov.

The ferry line, the only one between the two countries, was opened in May to carry cargo and passengers, predominantly Chinese tourists.

It stopped operating in August, however, because the port in Vladivostok refused to provide services to the vessel after the company failed to pay for them, RIA reported citing a port official.

The ferry service was launched in May in spite of calls by the United States for countries to curtail relations with Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

On Monday, Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington expected all U.N. member states, including Russia, to fully implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea and urged countries “to take additional steps to apply maximum pressure on (North Korea), including by cutting their economic and diplomatic ties.”

Baranov said the ferry was carrying only cargoes and no passengers for now, though the company was in talks with the port to resume passenger traffic, RIA said.

Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and missile launches have stirred global tensions and prompted several rounds of international sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.

Russia has condemned North Korea’s weapons testing but opposes U.S.-led efforts to isolate North Korea economically.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a decree imposing restrictions on North Korea in order to comply with a U.N. Security Council resolution introduced in response to Pyongyang’s missile tests in late 2016.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in MOSCOW; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Steve Orlofsky

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