Washington, Jan 26: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told reporters his visit to Washington to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula was productive and may contribute to improving US-Russian relations.
"The meeting was constructive. We discussed the current state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula and the perspectives for resolving them," Morgulov said after the talks with US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun on Friday.
North Korea and the United States recently kicked off working sessions to fulfill the Singapore declaration that calls for Pyongyang to denuclearize in exchange for sanctions relief.
During the talks, Morgulov said the Russian side confirmed Moscow’s position that sanctions against North Korea should be eased.
The Russian deputy foreign minister also said he felt Pyongyang and Washington’s positions on denuclearization seem to be drawing closer.
Morgulov explained that the United States previously demanded that North Korea denuclearize in a unilateral manner while Pyongyang preferred to do so gradually and in conjunction with US actions. However, he added, now it seems the US colleagues are reconsidering the sequence of actions.
The Russian side underscored to the US diplomats that denuclearizing the peninsula must be a collective effort that involves other countries in the region in six party talks along with a larger UN contribution.
"We also brought to their attention the necessity of increasing the UN’s role in the work on the Korean Peninsula," Morgulov said.
Morgulov said the talks on North Korea could have an added benefit of boosting US-Russian ties.
"I think that the dialogue we have on North Korea may have a positive effect and contribute to improving the overall atmosphere and the overall state of Russia-US relations," he said.
Biegun confirmed at the end of the talks that the United States highly values Russia’s role and sees Moscow as a vital part of the process to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, Morgulov added.
Morgulov explained that his visit was in response to Biegun’s visit to Moscow in October and the talks in Washington, DC were a second round of such consultations with the US special envoy.
Biegun, he added, accepted an invitation to visit Russia to continue talks on improving the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Biegun Deputy Mark Lambert will visit Russia next month or in March, Morgulov said.
The deputy foreign minister added that the Chinese special envoy for North Korea plans to visit Moscow in February.
The first meeting between Trump and Kim took place in June in Singapore. At the landmark talks, the two sides expressed their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump would hold his second summit with Kim in the end of February. (UNI)