North Korea: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets Kim Jong Un | News | DW | 31.05.2018
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North Korea: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets Kim Jong Un

Lavrov invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Russia as Moscow seeks to reassert its influence in the region. The visit comes as Pyongyang engages in hectic diplomacy with Washington, Seoul and Beijing.

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Lavrov meets Kim in Pyongyang

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Thursday.

The visit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts by Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington to restore a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, originally scheduled for June 12 in Singapore but later canceled by Trump.

What happened

  • Lavrov invited the North Korean leader to visit Russia.
  • He told Kim that Moscow supported peace and progress on the Korean peninsula and highly valued a declaration signed by Pyongyang and Seoul.
  • Earlier, Lavrov met with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho and others at the Supreme People's Assembly building in the North Korean capital.
  • Lavrov and his deputy Igor Morgulov paid their respects at a monument to Soviet soldiers in Pyongyang's Moranbong Park.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier Lavrov and Ri were expected to discuss "vital issues of bilateral relations and key international and regional issues."

Waning influence

"Russia has waning influence in Northeast Asia. It's been more or less sidelined. It's not a central player in the Korean peninsula standoff like it used to be during the Cold War," Seoul-based journalist Jason Strother told DW.

"While Moscow wants to see tensions decrease on the Korean peninsula, it (Lavrov's visit) is about trying to have influence once again in the region," Strother said referring to fresh diplomatic overtures by Pyongyang towards Washington, Seoul and Beijing.

Lavrov said Moscow hoped all sides would take a measured approach to the planned meeting on North Korea's nuclear program.

"This will allow for the realization not only of the denuclearization of the whole Korean peninsula but also to provide sustainable peace and stability across north-east Asia," Lavrov was quoted as saying by his ministry.

Russia's role: Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, has so far remained largely on the sidelines amid the flurry of diplomacy involving its neighbor. Last year, Moscow offered to mediate between Washington and Pyongyang when tensions between the two were high following a series of missile tests by North Korea.

Series of meetings: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has already met twice with China's President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He could end up meeting Trump as early as next month, if certain differences are ironed out.

Kim's trusted aide and former spy chief Kim Yong Chol is in New York to hold talks with US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a bid to restore the Singapore summit between the two leaders.

ap/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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