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08/04/1998 13:51:35 Moscow mayor wants S.Korea embassy next to North's

MOSCOW, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov has promised to help

South Korea find a roomier site for its embassy and has already suggested a spot

-- next door to arch-rival North Korea's hilltop mission in the Russian capital.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant Daily reported that Luzhkov had recently

visited South Korea's new ambassador and told him this would make things easier

if the two Koreas, technically still at war, reunite.

"It will be sufficient to take down the fence to make one united embassy

complex," Luzhkov was quoted as saying.

No one was available at the South Korean embassy for comment on the story,

but Seoul is unlikely to take up the offer, not least because they already have

an option on another site.

Relations between South Korea and Russia have gone through a sticky patch

and even sparked the resignation on Tuesday of South Korean Foreign Minister

Park Chung-soo. He apologised for mishandling a dispute over espionage

activities.

Kommersant said the Russian Foreign Ministry had several years ago made a

similar proposal to Luzhkov's about the same vacant site.

Seoul reacted indignantly then because the site on offer is down the hill

from the North's spartan mission, offering symbolic superiority and strategic

snooping opportunities.

"On this occasion (the ambassador) simply responded to the Moscow mayor's

proposal with a charming smile," the paper said.

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