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‘Putin ready for summit with Kim’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after holding talks with Kim’s special envoy.

Russia confirmed that it is ready for contact with North Korea at various levels, including the highest level, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in response to a question from a Korean news provider whether his discussions with the North’s special envoy, Choe Ryong-hae, included the possibility of Kim’s visit to Russia.

Further, Lavrov stressed that North Korea was ready to resume stalled international talks on its nuclear program.

North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations told a foreign news provider in Geneva last month that it was prepared to resume the six-party talks but must maintain its readiness in the face of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

Lavrov told a news conference on Thursday: “We got assurances from the high representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that Pyongyang is ready for the restart of six-party talks, without preconditions.”

He said a special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Russian President Vladimir Putin this week to deliver a letter promising “cooperation in solving problems that are now lingering on the Korean peninsula.”

Meanwhile, Pyongyang’s state media reported Friday that top North Korean and Russian military officials held talks in Moscow on ways to improve defense ties between the former communist allies.

No Kwang-chol, vice chief of the General Staff of the North’s Army, met with his Russian counterpart, as No is accompanying Choe Ryong-hae on his Russia trip, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

“Both sides had a wide-ranging exchange of views on putting the friendship and cooperation between the armies of the two countries on a new higher stage,” it said in a dispatch from Moscow.

The KCNA gave no date of the meeting, but it was apparently held Thursday. The two nations also held a separate meeting between senior economic officials, added the KCNA.

North Korean Vice Economy Minister Ri Kwang-gun had talks with Alexander Galushka, minister for the development of the Russian Far East.

The U.S. State Department said Thursday that North Korea’s threat to conduct a nuclear test in anger over a U.N. human rights resolution is a “cause of great concern,” urging Pyongyang to take steps to give up its nuclear program.

The North’s foreign ministry formally issued the nuclear threat earlier Thursday, saying the resolution compels the regime “not to exercise restraint any longer in conducting a new nuclear test” and vowing to strengthen its “war deterrence” against the United States.

It also accused the U.S. of orchestrating the resolution’s passage. The resolution, which passed through the Third Committee of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, calls for the North’s referral to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations, and targeted sanctions for those most responsible.

“The fact that the DPRK (North Korea) would respond to the legitimate international interest in the human rights situation there by threatening to resume nuclear testing is something that is a cause of great concern,” said Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman, at a regular briefing.

(From news reports)