Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed to North Korea’s Foreign Minister not only that Russia was supportive of whatever solid agreements might manifest between talks with the US and South Korea, but that Russia would not interfere in the process. He also pointed out that denuclearization cannot be fully realized as long as sanctions remain in place on North Korea.
The ultimate goal of Korean denuclearization cannot be reached as long as sanctions against Pyongyang are in place, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks with his North Korean counterpart.
Amid ongoing negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Lavrov flew to Pyongyang on Thursday to hold talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.
“In regards to sanctions, it is absolutely obvious that starting the whole conversation about the solution of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula, we proceed from the fact that it cannot be complete until the sanctions are abolished,” Lavrov said following the talks.
Stressing that it is “impossible” to ensure denuclearization in one move, the Russian foreign minister urged North Korean and US diplomats to use the “art of diplomacy” to achieve the desired outcome step by step.
Lavrov said that Russia welcomes the results of recent intra-Korean negotiations and the thawing of relations between North Korea and the US, as the countries prepare to hold a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.
“We welcome those contacts which have been developing between North and South Korea, North Korea and the United States,” Lavrov said. “We welcome the summits between Pyongyang and Seoul which have already taken place and the planned meetings at the highest level between the leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the US.”
Russia is prepared to support any “concrete agreements” that might result from negotiations in the UN, provided they “meet the interests of all parties involved, including the DPRK,” Lavrov stated.
In the meantime, Moscow believes it should distance itself from the negotiation process and let North Korea conduct its own diplomacy with the United States.
“I don’t think we should explore North Korea’s talking points that it plans to bring to the negotiations with the US. Expert consultations are underway in preparation for the talks, and we don’t feel like we are in a position to interfere with this process,” the foreign minister said.
While dealing with Trump, and his fickle nature, the possibility of moving forward with this process is just as sensitive. Trump could change his mind and walk away from any agreement process at any point in time for any reason.
This behaviour is seem by some as a negotiating tactic, but in practice, as we see with China and the escalating trade wars with much of America’s trade base, it serves to agitate the other parties, potentially leading to the one playing hardball playing it all by oneself.
The risks of that happening here are considerable, and the downsides to that sort of outcome are serious, hence, it is important that the talks between Kim and Trump are not seen as being influenced by any other party, lest Trump use this as his pretext for abandoning the peace and disarmament talks process.