North Korea's deputy nuclear negotiator Choe Son-hui recently met a visiting advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang in an apparent bid to request help from Russia to arrange bilateral or multilateral talks on Korean Peninsula issues, a US broadcaster reported Friday.
"Choe met with Anton Khlopkov, director of Russia's Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), in Pyongyang on March 15 to exchange opinions on Korean issues," Radio Free Asia said, citing a source in the Russian Embassy in the North.
North Korea's deputy nuclear negotiator Choe Son-hui (center) poses with Vladimir Putin's non-proliferation adviser Anton Khlopkov (2nd from left) during a meeting in Pyongyang on March 15, 2017. (Yonhap)
Khlopkov has been active at an advisory committee under the Putin-chaired Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF) since 2011, and is known to be the sole non-proliferation expert among Putin's advisers.
"Choe reportedly emphasized the need for bilateral or multilateral talks to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula during the meeting," the broadcaster said. Choe, the head of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's North American affairs bureau, is the North's deputy chief to the frozen six-party talks on ending the North's nuclear ambitions.
Choe's emphasis is construed as a call for Russia to help arrange the reopening of the suspended nuclear talks, according to the broadcaster.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-kyu, an advisor at the North Korean Embassy in Moscow, told local media on Thursday that the United States is blocking the reopening of the multilateral talks.
He also said Pyongyang hopes Russia will understand why it cannot help but to pursue nuclear weapons.
Russia is a member of the Chinese-hosted six-party talks, which also involve the two Koreas, Japan and the United States.
The talks have been suspended since late 2008 as the North continued to pursue nuclear development. (Yonhap)