Russia 'welcomes' North Korea's nuclear declaration

AFP , Saturday 21 Apr 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov enters a hall for a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl in Moscow, Russia April 20, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)

Moscow "welcomes" North Korea's Kim Jong Un's declaration on halting nuclear tests and calls on the US and Pyongyang to work together to reduce tensions, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"We welcome the declaration of the Working Party's Chairman Kim Jong Un on the halt of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear and missile tests from April 21," the statement said.

"We consider the given decision an important step towards the future easing of tensions in the Korean peninsula," it added.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday said he would halt nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches, in a Saturday announcement welcomed by US President Donald Trump ahead of a much-anticipated summit between the two men.

Russia called on Washington and Pyongyang to take steps in lowering military activity in the region.

"We call on the US and the (South) Korean Republic to take adequate reciprocal steps towards lowering military activity in the region and achieving mutually acceptable agreements with the DPRK in the upcoming inter-Korean and American-North Korean summits," the statement said.

On Friday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow welcomed an expected summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

"We cannot wish this meeting failure," Lavrov said.

"We very much hope that he (Trump) starts the process of de-escalating tensions."

The odds of the Trump-Kim summit taking place were boosted by the shock news earlier this week that CIA chief Mike Pompeo had gone to Pyongyang to meet Kim for the most significant US-North Korea contact in almost two decades.

Lavrov compared the US and North Korean statements prior to the meeting to tensions between "boxers" before a match.

"Before the start of serious conversations it is like boxers entering the ring, showing off in front of one another before the fight," he said.

Russia has relatively warm ties with North Korea, with which it shares a small land border.

The United States earlier this year accused Russia of helping Pyongyang evade some international sanctions by supplying fuel to the isolated country.

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