Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday. According to the Russian media, Lavrov invites Kim to visit Russia at the appropriate time. Prior to this meeting, Lavrov met his North Korean counterpart, Rei Yong-Ho.
After meeting with Re, Lavrov told reporters that Russia advocated “to take steps” of sanctions imposed on North Korea and called for the achievement of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“As we start discussions about resolving the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula, it is understood that the solution cannot be widespread without lifting the sanctions,” Lavrov said
Lavrov’s comments are likely to be met with frustration in Washington, where North Korea is being encouraged to begin the process of nuclear disarmament before the summit scheduled for June 12.
Lavrov’s visit to North Korea comes after Kim Young Chol arrived in New York on Wednesday, becoming the most senior official from North Korea to touch American soil since 2000 and met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the probable summit between Trump and Kim, tentatively scheduled for June 12.
On Wednesday, senior North Korean officer Kim Yong Chol met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York, third meeting this year because both sides are trying to finalize their Summit
North Korea’s leader Kim – meeting a top Russian official for the first time – thanked Moscow for standing by Pyongyang as the country tries to come in from the diplomatic cold.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is changing according to the interests of two countries. I’m glad that Putin’s government is acting in opposition to the domination of the United States, and we are always ready to negotiate with the Russian side,” Kim was quoted as saying in Russian media.
An analyst said that despite the Russian delegation’s visit, Moscow did not have significant influence on North Korea’s position in the nuclear talks.
“For North Korea, Russia is less important than South Korea, the United States and China,” Andrei Lankov, a professor of Korean Studies said.
“The North Korean decision-makers largely focus on those countries which are particularly important, that either constitute potential or actual military threats such as the United States and South Korea, or who have been given financial support and investment can be seen as a potential source – like China and South Korea,” said Lankov.
He added Russia is unlikely to invest any significant amount money in Pyongyang and does not have an active military presence in the region.