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South Korea, Russia agree to cooperate on early resumption of talks with NK

Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speak during a joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speak during a joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

South Korea and Russia stressed the urgent need to resolve North Korea’s nuclear problem and agreed to closely communicate to resume the stalled talks with Pyongyang, Seoul’s top diplomat said Wednesday. 

The remarks came after talks between South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, took place in Moscow.

“The two countries shared the view on the urgency of resolving North Korea’s nuclear problem and agreed to closely communicate and cooperate at each level for an early resumption of the Korean Peninsula peace process,” Chung said during a joint press conference after the meeting.

Chung said the two sides exchanged opinions on various ways to cooperate to revive talks with the North at the earliest, with both stressing the importance of the stable management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Lavrov also echoed a similar stance, underscoring the need to seek a “diplomatic solution” in dealing with the situation on the peninsula.

“We believe that a diplomatic solution should be possible and talks should be resumed by all parties concerned,” Lavrov said in Russian, which was translated into English. “We should understand that the search for a long-term comprehensive solution should cover the whole range of issues of the Korean Peninsula, and we need to ensure no factors intervene (to) increase tensions.”

Chung’s Moscow visit comes as Seoul has been ramping up diplomacy in order to salvage the peace process on the peninsula before President Moon Jae-in leaves office next May. Seoul believes that Moscow, which is close to the North and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, could wield some influence over the reclusive regime to refrain from provocation and return to nuclear talks. Russia was also a member of the now-defunct six party talks -- which involved China, Japan, the US and the two Koreas -- to denuclearize Pyongyang.

Chung and Lavrov also agreed to make efforts to realize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Seoul at an early date, as soon as the coronavirus situation stabilizes, according to the Foreign Ministry here.

On Wednesday, the two envoys also attended a closing ceremony celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the two countries’ diplomatic ties. The two established diplomatic relations in 1991, but due to the COVID-19 situation, they have extended the celebration into this year.


By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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