MOSCOW: Russia’s foreign minister proposed regular security talks with North Korea and China to deal with what he described as increasing US-led regional military threats, as he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his top diplomat on Thursday during a visit to Pyongyang.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in North Korea’s capital on Wednesday on a two-day trip expected to focus on how to boost the two countries’ defense ties following a September summit between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Last week, the US said North Korea had transferred munitions to Russia to boost its fighting capabilities in Ukraine in violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban any weapons trading involving North Korea.
On Thursday, Lavrov met Kim for talks that lasted about an hour, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported, without elaborating. Lavrov met his North Korean counterpart, Choe Son Hui, earlier on Thursday and lauded deepening bilateral collaboration.
Lavrov and Choe discussed “resuming full-fledged contacts” and intensifying economic cooperation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It added that Lavrov invited Choe to visit Moscow “at her convenience.” The ministry also said Lavrov recommended that Russian tourists start holidaying in North Korea.
Tass also quoted Lavrov as telling reporters that he supports holding regular talks on security issues on the Korean Peninsula with North Korea and China.
The Lavrov-Kim meeting “means that the recent fleet of containers likely caring munitions from North Korea to Russia was not the last Kim-Putin transaction the world has to worry about,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul.
“After accepting Pyongyang’s help to resupply the illegal invasion of Ukraine, Moscow is set to commit further violations of UN Security Council resolutions by providing North Korea with weapons technology that could threaten stability in East Asia,” Easley said.
“The United States, Japan and South Korea intensifying military activity here and Washington working toward moving strategic infrastructure, including nuclear aspects, here, are of great concern to us and our North Korean friends,” Lavrov said, according to Tass.
“We oppose this unconstructive and dangerous policy with a course toward de-escalation and inadmissibility of escalating tensions here.”