By Hyunsu Yim
SEOUL (Reuters) - A North Korean minister met with the governor of the Russian region bordering the two countries to discuss boosting regional economic cooperation, state media KCNA reported on Wednesday, the latest exchange between the neighbouring states.
The talks between North Korea's External Economic Relations Minister Yun Jong Ho and Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of the Russian far eastern region of Primorsky, focused on "elevating economic cooperation to a higher level," it said.
The KCNA report also said the trade and economic working groups of the two sides signed an agreement but it did not provide details of that or the meeting between the officials.
Primorsky is also known informally as Primorye.
The meeting comes as South Korea's spy agency said on Tuesday there had been signs that North Korea was moving to deploy workers to Russia, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Any country employing North Korean workers who earn wages would be violating U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at curbing Pyongyang's banned weapons programs on grounds the earnings can be channeled to finance the projects.
"This is the first visit after a long break caused by the pandemic," Kozhemyako said on his Telegram channel. "Our delegation’s program includes many meetings to develop humanitarian ties between Primorye and the DPRK. First of all, in the field of culture, tourism and sports."
In November, Kozhemyako told the Russian TASS state news agency that Primorye was ready to consider the possibility of providing part of its agricultural land for farming by North Korean farmers.
Kozhemyako's visit marks the latest in a flurry of bilateral visits since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Russia in September and met President Vladimir Putin to discuss deepening military cooperation.
That pledge came in the backdrop of what U.S. officials said was evidence of arms trade between the North and Russia, which is expending vast amounts of munitions in its war with Ukraine.
North Korea's premier Kim Tok Hun met with Russia's natural resources minister Alexander Kozlov last month and held talks in a "friendly atmosphere," Pyongyang's state media reported at that time.
A delegation led by the North Korean culture minister also traveled to Saint Petersburg during the same month to attend the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum.
In October, a North Korean Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports delegation participated in the International Sports Forum in the Russian city of Perm.
(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim in Seoul and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates)