South Korea’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong is to arrive back in Seoul on Thursday, wrapping up a series of meetings with top officials of neighboring powers over recent North Korean developments.
In the last leg of his trip, Chung on Tuesday met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, where he discussed details of his meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, as he had done with Chinese President Xi Jinping a day earlier in Beijing.
National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong (right) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday. Yonhap
Ahead of the meeting, Lavrov said that Chung’s visit demonstrates the South Korean leadership’s understanding on the necessity of forming a strong “common front” with nations that support seeking a peaceful resolution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
In the meeting, the Russian foreign minister took a position similar to those of Chinese and Japanese leaders, that his country supports the developments, Chung said.
“Minister Lavrov conveyed the Russian government’s support for the inter-Korean dialogue, and the agreement in principle over US-North Korea talks,” Chung said after the meeting.
He added that he and the Russian minister agreed to maintain close cooperation between the two nations in the run-up to the two summits.
Russia was the last stop in President Moon Jae-in’s campaign to rally support for his administration’s plans on engaging North Korea, which accelerated after he sent special envoys to Pyongyang earlier this month.
Chung, along with National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon, was dispatched to Pyongyang on March 5, where he met with North Korean leader Kim and returned with a list of agreements.
The agreements include a summit with Moon at the end of April and a cessation of missile and nuclear provocations while in talks with the South. North Korea also revealed that it is open to denuclearization talks with the US, which Trump has since accepted. Kim and Trump are expected to hold a meeting by May.
While Chung traveled to China and Russia, Suh met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday. In the meeting, Abe welcomed the developments, but also stressed the need to see North Korea taking concrete steps toward denuclearization before concessions are made.
The Japanese leader also said that his country seeks a resolution to the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the late 1970s and the 1980s. North Korea is accused of kidnapping 17 Japanese citizens, only five of whom have been repatriated.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com