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Russia to hold nuclear talks with North Korea

Moscow to receive top North Korean delegation as Pyongyang attempts to ease tensions over its nuclear programme.

Last Modified: 29 Jun 2013 20:31
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North Korea walked out of talks with South Korea, US, Japan, Russia and China in 2009 in reaction to sanctions [AFP]

Russian officials in Moscow will meet North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator next week in a bid to get Pyongyang to re-join protracted talks over ending its atomic programme, Russia's state news agency reported.

Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's First Deputy Foreign Minister, would meet Russia's deputy foreign ministers Vladimir Titov and Igor Morgulov on Thursday "as part of efforts to resume the six-party talks", the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Saturday.

The isolated Asian state recently warned that hostility by the United States could lead to war with South Korea at any moment, and vowed not to give up its nuclear power in the face of mounting UN and international sanctions following recent tests.

North Korea had also walked out of the discussions with South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and its main ally China in 2009 in reaction to UN sanctions.

But in a flurry of statements and visits this month, North Korea has offered to hold talks with the United States to ease tensions.

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During a trip to Beijing last week to discuss restarting the six-party talks with China, Kim Kye-gwan said the denuclearisation of the peninsula was the "dying wish" of North Korea's founder.

Nuclear disarmament

The US government has said any talks must involve action by the North to show it is moving toward disarmament.

Washington has been sceptical of Pyongyang's move towards dialogue in the past, saying it has repeatedly backtracked on deals.

The Obama administration kept up the pressure on North Korea this week by saying it was imposing sanctions on the country's Daedong Credit Bank for its role in supporting what Washington calls "Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction programme".

The UN Security Council has also imposed a variety of sanctions on North Korea for Pyongyang's three nuclear tests and numerous missile launches, including an embargo on the import and export of nuclear and missile technology and a ban on all arms exports.

Russia is one of the few countries maintaining diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. The late leader Kim Jong-Il made a train trip to Siberia in 2011 shortly before his death, calling for a resumption of the talks "without preconditions".

Moscow has repeatedly said that the situation in North Korea could spiral out of control, and Morgulov recently called it "explosive" and ripe for becoming uncontrollable with an "elementary human error".

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