UPDATE : 2019.4.22 MON 17:30
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Russia ready to cooperate for peaceful resolution of N. Korean issues

Russia is ready to cooperate with South Korea to peacefully resolve regional issues involving North Korea, Russia's top envoy on North Korean nuclear issues said Monday during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart.

"We are ready for close cooperation with South Korea for the purpose of achieving a peaceful resolution of overall issues in the region," Vice Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, Russia's top negotiator on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, said in the meeting with Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Russian deputy minister also commended South Korea-Russian cooperation on the security front, saying, "South Korea is contributing to the development of security on the Korean Peninsula."

Lee stressed that "Russia has been South Korea's long-term partner in efforts to solve the North Korean nuclear issue."

"I think this meeting is very timely, taking place at a time like today when the North Korean nuclear and missile problems are becoming increasingly serious," the South Korean top envoy on the North Korean nuclear issue noted.

In a statement released after the meeting, the South Korean foreign ministry said the two nuclear envoys had in-depth discussions on their countries' cooperation to ensure a peaceful resolution of North Korean nuclear issues. The ministry added South Korea and Russia will work under the principle that neither will accept a nuclear-armed North Korea, a stance it said was reaffirmed by the leaders of the countries in their summit in September.

"The two sides shared the viewed that steady management of the situation was more important than anything else," the ministry added. "They agreed to keep up their mutual efforts to deter further provocations by North Korea, while also trying to bring North Korea to the dialogue table."

In a press conference earlier in the day, Morgulov expressed doubts about the effectiveness of international sanctions on North Korea.

"Through sanctions or pressure, (we) cannot achieve the effect of bringing North Korea to the negotiating table," the Russian deputy minister said. "The stronger the sanctions and pressure on North Korea become, the greater the harm to normal North Koreans could get," he said.

He also argued that the current hiatus in North Korea's military provocations means North Korea is implementing the so-called freeze-for-freeze deal that Russia has proposed.

Along with China and some North Korea experts, Russia has proposed that the U.S. and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests. Seoul and Washington, however, have not accepted the proposal.

The Russian diplomat also referred to the allies' continuation of their joint military exercises and expressed regret over them.

Morgulov later told Yonhap News Agency that Russia is "in favor of the resumption of the six-party talks," referring to the long-dormant multilateral forum to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "We are ready to resume it any time at any place ... without any condition from the Russian side," he said.

Still, Russia will remove North Korean workers from its soil as resolutions of the United Nations Security Council say, the deputy minister also noted. "We should abandon this practice. So definitely we will do it ... as exactly as the resolutions require," Morgulov said.

Lee Do-hoon (L), South Korea's top envoy on North Korean nuclear issues, shakes hands with his Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, before their meeting at the South Korean foreign ministry headquarters in Seoul on Nov. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

Kim Su-a  edt@koreapost.co.kr

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