Lavrov blasts attack in talk with North envoy

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Lavrov blasts attack in talk with North envoy

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his North Korean counterpart in Moscow on Monday and condemned the artillery attack on Yeongpyeong Island.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, Lavrov met with North Korean Foreign Minister Park Ui-chun and told him that the shelling of the inhabited South Korean island, which killed four people, is blameworthy.

Lavrov had condemned the North’s Nov. 23 attack hours afterward, but Monday’s statement is considered a much stronger response as it was made directly to the first high-ranking North Korean official visiting Russia since the shelling.

Park came to Russia on Sunday on a four-day trip that analysts said was an attempt to get sympathy from Russia after international condemnation for its recent provocations.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, Lavrov “expressed deep concern” over the North’s recent disclosure of a uranium enrichment facility and urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program in the meeting with Park, the ministry said.

Lavrov also said the stalled six-party talks on denuclearizing the North should be restarted, the ministry said. Last month, China proposed an emergency meeting of the six parties - the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia - to discuss current tensions on the peninsula.

According to the AFP, talks between Lavrov and Park are due to continue until Wednesday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, speaking at a media briefing yesterday, reiterated Seoul’s stance that the resumption of the talks can only be discussed when the North shows a new sense of responsibility.

Asked whether that was a refutation of Lavrov’s call, Kim said, “It is not an official suggestion from Russia.” He said South Korea is not against talks, but the time is not right.

“I think Russia understands our position well,” he said.

Meanwhile, China said yesterday that North Korea agreed to its proposal of new six-party talks during a recent visit to Pyongyang by Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said that during the meeting between Dai and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang last Thursday, China and North Korea agreed to exercise calm and restraint.

By Lee Sang-eon, Moon Gwang-lip []
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