Russia, N. Korea to discuss nuclear crisis
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