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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Considers Seoul's Call To Discuss Envoy Expulsions

SEOUL, South Korea -- Russia said Wednesday it was considering a South Korean proposal for a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss a recent tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats.

A statement from the Russian Embassy in Seoul quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying South Korea had suggested "giving explanations" at the proposed meeting.

"At present we are seriously studying this suggestion," it said.

South Korea said last week it was trying to arrange a meeting between South Korean Foreign Minister Park Chung-soo and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov at an ASEAN regional forum meeting July 27 in the Philippines.

Relations between Moscow and Seoul became strained last week after Russia expelled South Korea's counselor in Moscow Cho Sung-woo on espionage charges.

South Korea retaliated by demanding Seoul-based Russian diplomat Oleg Abramkin leave.

Seoul said Abramkin, who had worked in Korea since 1994, had "engaged in activities that violate a diplomat's status" -- usually the diplomatic code for spying.

Moscow Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said last week Seoul's response was "completely out of proportion" and that further escalations between both sides were possible.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Cho was caught red-handed receiving classified materials from Valentin Moiseyev, deputy director of the ministry's first Asian department.

Ties between Russia and South Korea had been improving since the end of the Cold War while Moscow's relations with North Korea have cooled considerably.