Russian foreign minister in North Korea Thursday for high-level talks

Russian foreign minister in North Korea Thursday for high-level talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Pyongyang today for talks with his counterpart Ri Hong-yo.

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Photo: AFP

While the US and North Korea continue to negotiate an on-again, off-again leadership summit in Singapore, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Pyongyang today for talks with his counterpart Ri Hong-yo.

Sharing a border with the peninsula—where the USSR made an essential contribution to the establishment of the DPRK in 1948—Russia is a key stakeholder in North Korea’s denuclearisation. President Putin has already expressed his desire to facilitate trilateral discussions between North Korea, South Korea and Russia and remains a moderate voice in the arena.

In January, Putin labelled Kim Jong-un as “an absolutely competent and already mature politician”, recognising the importance of nuclear weapons to North Korea’s security. Putin has simultaneously called for Pyongyang to take steps towards denuclearisation and warned the international community not to back the Hermit Kingdom into a corner.

As its two northern neighbours, China and Russia proposed the poorly received “simultaneous freeze roadmap” in July 2017, whereby North Korea would take steps towards denuclearisation in exchange for the US and South Korea ceasing military exercises. As the key representative from the world’s second most powerful nuclear state, Lavrov will today seek to inject Russian interests into the ongoing discussions over a Trump-Kim summit, which may raise the prospects of a similar meeting between the North Korean leader and Putin.

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