March 30 (UPI) — Russia is pursuing ways to hold multilateral talks on the North Korea nuclear issue, after dismissing speculation President Vladimir Putin could soon meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Moscow’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday Russia is in communication with relevant countries to hold talks, Radio Free Asia reported.
“Russia is actively working to strengthen the positive trends taking place on the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding areas,” Zakahrova said. “We are discussing the possibility of holding talks with representatives of relevant countries in Moscow in the near future.”
The Russian official said details on the schedule would be discussed after plans are finalized.
Zakahrova also confirmed North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is to soon visit Moscow.
Ri could be meeting with the Russians to coordinate on issues where the two countries are aligned, ahead of major summits between North and South Korea and with the United States.
Russia has consistently supported the resumption of nuclear negotiations through the six-party talks, which were stalled in the face of North Korea’s growing nuclear weapons program.
But Moscow has also been critical of the increased presence of U.S. missile defense in Northeast Asia, and has advocated a “freeze-for-freeze” policy, where joint U.S.-South Korea drills are scaled back if North Korea agrees to steps toward denuclearization.
The U.S. State Department has said it welcomes the recent talks held in China, between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as ongoing discussions between North and South Korea.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told CNN U.S. plans for talks have not changed and the objective of the talks is denuclearization.
“North Korea has said through our interlocutors that it is willing to denuclearize. That is the — really, the capstone of our policy — getting North Korea to denuclearize. Not only does it make the region safer but it makes the entire world safe,” Nauert said.