SEOUL. Vice Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, Russia’s top negotiator on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, has said that Russia is ready to cooperate with South Korea to peacefully resolve regional issues involving North Korea. The statement came on Monday during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Korea. This meeting is aimed at sharing the two countries’ assessments on the current security situation on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea has held off on military provocations for over two months.Both sides are expected to reaffirm their commitment to a peaceful resolution of the North Korean issue.
The Russian deputy minister also appreciated South Korea for cooperating Russia on the security front, saying, “South Korea is contributing to the development of security on the Korean Peninsula.”
“We are ready for close cooperation with South Korea for the purpose of achieving a peaceful resolution of overall issues in the region,”Russian top envoy
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.