Russia and North Korea have struck a deal forgiving most of Pyongyang's 11-billion-dollar debt to the Kremlin, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Tuesday.
Moscow and Pyongyang officials on Monday signed an agreement effectively erasing 90 per cent of the outstanding debt in exchange for a North Korean promise to pay the remainder at prevailing international exchange rates, Vice Finance Minister Sergei Storchak said, dpa reported.
North Korea will be obliged to pay Russia the effective equivalent of 1 billion dollars, he said.
A substantial portion of the money still owed by North Korea will be returned in barter form by giving Russian business access to North Korean education, health services or energy projects, Storchak said.
Russia and North Korea had been in talks about the debt since 2008.
The Kremlin was a generous supporter of the North Korean regime during the Soviet era for ideological reasons, but the modern Russian state headed by President Vladimir Putin has pushed for an end to foreign aid that fails to gain Russia commercial or political advantages.