The top diplomats of the United States and Russia have agreed to work together to peacefully resolve the issue of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the State Department said Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached the agreement during a phone call Tuesday, according to the department's spokeswoman, Heather Nauert.
"The two discussed concerns related to the DPRK's destabilizing nuclear program and emphasized that neither the United States nor Russia accepts the DPRK as a nuclear power," she said in a readout, using the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea this year conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile launches, including the Nov. 29 test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching anywhere in the U.S.
Washington has pushed a "maximum pressure" campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation to force Pyongyang to denuclearize. But concerns also persist of a possible U.S. military strike on the North.
Tillerson and Lavrov "agreed that they will continue to work toward a diplomatic solution to achieve a denuclearized Korean peninsula," Nauert said.
According to a Russian foreign ministry statement quoted by AFP, Lavrov told Tillerson that it is "necessary to move from the language of sanctions to the negotiating process as soon as possible."
The statement Tuesday also said Lavrov "highlighted that it is unacceptable to exacerbate tensions around the Korean peninsula with Washington's aggressive rhetoric toward Pyongyang and increasing military preparations in the region." (Yonhap)