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THE INVESTOR

Politics & North Korea

Moon, Putin discuss North Korea, economic ties

  • PUBLISHED :September 06, 2017 - 17:30
  • UPDATED :September 08, 2017 - 11:21
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[THE INVESTOR] President Moon Jae-in on Sept. 6 sat with Russian President Vladimir Putin for their second summit meeting, as international attention turns to Russia and China for bigger roles in pressuring North Korea. 

The meeting, held on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, comes two days after the two leaders held a telephone conversation about North Korea’s latest nuclear test. 


President Moon Jae-in (left) holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok on Sept. 6.


At the meeting, Putin greeted Moon, saying that he welcomes the opportunity to discuss “matters we consider to be worrisome including North Korean missile, nuclear issues.” 

In his opening remarks, Moon reiterated his concerns about the North Korean situation, saying that Pyongyang has created a “very serious situation” in international politics. 

“If North Korea does not stop its provocations here, the situation may become uncontrollable,” Moon said. 

“(I) hope to search for measures to fundamentally solve the North Korean nuclear issue and to prompt North Korea to stop provocations together (with Russia).”

Moon’s remarks echoes those he made during telephone conversation with Putin on Sept. 4. In the conversation, Moon said that cutting off North Korea’s oil supply must be given serious consideration. At the time, Putin did not give a direct answer, suggesting that they expand on the issue face to face. 

While tougher sanctions have been imposed, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs appear to have continued unaffected, culminating in the nuclear test on Sept. 3. Following the test, the sixth and most powerful to date, Pyongyang claimed that it had secured the technology to mount a hydrogen bomb warhead on intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

With North Korea continuing to defy the international community, eyes have turned to China and Russia to take more active roles. 

Although to a lesser extent than Beijing, Moscow has been instrumental in blunting the impact of sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime. 

According to reports, Russia’s trade with North Korea showed an over 70 percent year-on-year surge in the first six months of the year. Fuel, including crude oil, takes up much of North Korea’s imports from Russia. 

However, Putin has played down Moscow’s interaction with North Korea, saying that oil exports and the number of North Korean workers in Russia are both negligible. 

Speaking at the recent summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa held in China, Putin also refuted the efficacy of further sanctions, describing them as “useless” and saying that military developments in the region would lead to a “global catastrophe.”

The two leaders also touched on other issues, with both sides expressing hopes for more trade. 

Highlighting that his plans to seek economic growth in countries north of the Korean Peninsula fall in line with Putin’s plans for the Russian Fareast, Moon said that South Korea is “the optimal partner” for those plans. 

Moon added that he hopes to substantially improve Seoul-Moscow relations during his term. 

In a separate development, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hinted that the country may be open to reviewing further sanctions against North Korea, hinting at a possible change in its stance. 

Russia has maintained that the situation on the Korean Peninsula must be resolved through diplomatic means and has been critical of Washington’s plans for proposing a new draft resolution to the UN Security Council. 

However, a post on its website revealed that Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov hinted at possible room for discussion in his telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov reiterated that North Korea should be dealt with “political and diplomatic tools,” but Russia is ready to consider the US’ draft resolution provided that the included measures are within such boundaries. 

By Choi He-suk/The Korea Herald (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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