Russia has offered to mediate in talks between the United States and North Korea as tensions continue to escalate with the aggressive advancement of the country’s nuclear weapons program.
“Russia’s readiness to clear the way for de-escalation is obvious,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly made a similar offer in a phone conversation with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, where he argued that “Washington’s aggressive rhetoric” of additional sanctions and the increased military exercises in the region was only worsening relations and increasing the risk of war.
Responding to the offer, U.S. State Department spokesperson Justin Higgins said the United States “has the ability to communicate with North Korea through a variety of diplomatic channels.”
“We want the North Korean regime to understand that there is a different path that it can choose, however it is up to North Korea to change course and return to credible negotiations,” he said.
Another U.S. State Department spokesman, Michael Cavey, said the U.S. remained open to talks, but the onus was on North Korea “to take sincere and meaningful actions toward denuclearization and refrain from further provocations.”
Earlier in December, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was ready to hold a “first meeting without precondition,” although this offer was later rebuffed by North Korea who claimed it was an unsuccessful attempt to “shift responsibility for tensions on the Korean Peninsula to us with its dialogue offensive.”
The offers from Moscow follow additional sanctions imposed on North Korea by both the U.S. and the United Nations, which the country has described as an “act of war.”
The U.N. resolution imposes sanctions on the rogue regime’s energy sector as well as limits on imports, exports, and overseas North Korean workers who are often used as a way for the regime to earn money for its weapons program.
Meanwhile, the latest U.S. sanctions target North Korean officials Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, who are believed to be heavily involved in the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, by seizing any assets within U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting American citizens from dealing with them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously warned that further pressure against the North Korean regime could provoke a devastating war leading to thousands of casulaties.
“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks),” Putin wrote in September. “In Russia’s opinion, the calculation that it is possible to halt North Korea’s nuclear missile programs exclusively by putting pressure on Pyongyang is erroneous and futile.”
“Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere,” he added.