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Russia backs Swiss to host Korea talks

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that he backed the idea of Switzerland hosting six-nation talks in an effort to defuse tensions over North Korea.

"As far as I understand, Switzerland is ready to offer its hospitable land for the conduct of six-party negotiations, in the hopes that they are held. We are not against this idea," Lavrov told reporters after meeting with his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter.

The talks, involving North and South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Japan, have been frozen since 2009 after North Korea pulled out in reaction to United Nations sanctions over its missile programme.

There were six separate rounds between 2003 and 2007, however, and Switzerland last week offered help as tensions soar on the Korean peninsula.

Neutral Switzerland has five members of its military deployed on the armistice line between the two Koreas, as part of a commission of non-aligned countries monitoring a ceasefire dating back to the Korean War of the 1950s.

It also has a liaison office in Pyongyang, capital of communist North Korea.

The tightly-controlled nation's current leader Kim Jong-un -- the third in a dynasty of strongman leaders -- spent several years in school in Switzerland under the guise of an embassy driver's son.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130412/russia-backs-swiss-host-korea-talks