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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Korean Minister Meets Russia Envoy Over Spy Feud




SEOUL, South Korea -- New South Korean Foreign Minister Hong Soon-Young on Friday met Russia's ambassador in Seoul in a bid to end an espionage fracas that has soured ties between Seoul and Moscow, officials said.


Hong and Ambassador Yevgeny Afanasyev met for an hour at the Foreign Ministry, reportedly to discuss the aftermath of the crisis and how to settle agreement details between the two countries over the affair.


The meeting was the first between the two men since Hong took office after President Kim Dae-Jung sacked his predecessor Park Chung-Soo.


Park's firing was the culmination of a monthlong diplomatic dispute between Seoul and Moscow over tit-for-tat spy expulsions.


His surprise dismissal came after he struck a contentious deal in talks last week with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in a bid to settle the escalating spat.


Park agreed to allow expelled Moscow diplomat Oleg Abramkin to return to Seoul to pack up his belongings, a deal the Korean opposition and media branded "humiliating" and "clandestine."


Abramkin was evicted in retaliation for the expulsion from Moscow of a South Korean diplomat allegedly caught "red-handed" paying a Russian foreign ministry official for information probably pertaining to North Korea.


Seoul, furious over the public embarrassment, ousted Abramkin, accusing him of espionage, a charge Moscow has denied.