Russia proposes regular security talks with North Korea, China

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Thursday for regular security talks involving North Korea and China as he expressed concern during his visit to Pyongyang over increased defense cooperation among the United States, South Korea and Japan, according to Russian media reports.

Lavrov met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for one hour, Tass news agency said without elaborating. The Russian top diplomat’s two-day visit to Pyongyang followed talks between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Far East on Sept. 13.

Lavrov told reporters in North Korea that Moscow and Pyongyang are wary about increased military activity by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo around the Korean Peninsula, noting the United States is moving its strategic infrastructure including nuclear-armed ones to South Korea, according to the reports.

He also held talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui on Thursday and said at the outset of the meeting that bilateral relations have reached “a qualitatively new, strategic level” following the Putin-Kim summit, according to the speech released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

During their talks, Lavrov and Choe agreed to “resist the hegemonic aspirations of the United States that may escalate the situation in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tass said.

They discussed “pressing issues of bilateral relations” to follow up on agreements reached at the summit meeting last month, including efforts to increase bilateral trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the news agency said.

Lavrov invited Choe to visit Moscow at her convenience and a plan for exchanges between the two countries’ foreign ministers for the next two years was signed, Tass added.

The United States alleges North Korea has recently delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia for its war on Ukraine, although Moscow has denied the claim. Pyongyang is believed to expect military and economic assistance from Russia in return.

At a welcome reception Wednesday, Lavrov said Moscow deeply values Pyongyang’s “unwavering and principled support” for Russia over its Ukraine war, the Russian ministry said.

The Russian minister also hailed North Korea for “remaining unfazed by any pressure of the U.S. and the West,” and expressed Moscow’s support for Pyongyang’s policies to defend its sovereignty and interests, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

Choe said in her speech at the reception that friendly relations between North Korea and Russia are “now further developing into an unbreakable comradely relationship and into a future-oriented eternal” one, KCNA said.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga