Rus­sia, N. Korea to dis­cuss nu­clear cri­sis

Otago Daily Times - - The World -

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON: Rus­sian and North Korean of­fi­cials will meet in Moscow to­day to dis­cuss the North Korean cri­sis, a move wel­comed by the United States, which has been locked in an in­creas­ingly heated war of words with Py­ongyang over its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grammes.

Rus­sia’s For­eign Min­istry said Oleg Bur­mistrov, Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador­at­large, would meet Choe Son­hui, di­rec­tor­gen­eral of the North Amer­i­can depart­ment of North Korea’s for­eign min­istry.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova de­clined to give details, but said her min­istry would is­sue a state­ment af­ter the meet­ing.

The US wel­comed the planned meet­ing, US State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert say­ing: ‘‘I can’t see that as a bad thing.’’

‘‘Diplo­macy is our pre­ferred ap­proach,’’ Nauert told a reg­u­lar brief­ing.

‘‘If Rus­sia can be suc­cess­ful in get­ting North Korea to move in a bet­ter di­rec­tion, we would cer­tainly wel­come that.’’

Pri­vately, how­ever, US of­fi­cials have played down the likely ef­fect of the Rus­sian ef­fort.

Re­cent days have seen ex­changes of heated rhetoric and threats be­tween US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and North Korea over the lat­ter’s bid to de­velop nu­clear­tipped mis­siles ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the US.

Nauert said the talks would fol­low a visit to Moscow by the US spe­cial en­voy for North Korea, Joseph Yun, about two weeks ago.

At­tend­ing the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York last week, Rus­sian For­eign Minis­ ter Sergei Lavrov pushed a pro­posal by Moscow and Bei­jing for a dual sus­pen­sion of North Korean weapons tests and the US­South Korean mil­i­tary drills to kick­start ne­go­ti­a­tions.

He sug­gested a neu­tral Euro­pean coun­try could me­di­ate.

Washington has said its joint mil­i­tary drills are es­sen­tial to guard against North Korea and Py­ongyang must show it is se­ri­ous about giv­ing up its nu­clear weapons be­fore any re­turn to talks.

North Korea, for its part, says it needs to de­velop its weapons to de­fend it­self against what it sees as US ag­gres­sion.

Last week, Lavrov said North Korea and the US should tone down their bel­li­cose rhetoric, call­ing the ex­change of threats be­tween the two ‘‘quite bad, un­ac­cept­able’’. — Reuters

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