Kim talks denuclearization pledge with Lavrov

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Kim talks denuclearization pledge with Lavrov

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and expressed hope for a phased process in resolving the issue on Thursday.

Kim made the remark in talks with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pyongyang, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

“The DPRK’s will for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula still remains unchanged and consistent and fixed,” the KCNA quoted Kim as saying in English. “And he hoped that the DPRK-U.S. relations and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be solved on a stage-by-stage basis.”

DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim said the denuclearization issue should be resolved through “effective and constructive” dialogue and negotiations, and called for efforts to find a “solution to meet the interests of each other through a new method in a new era.”

Lavrov praised Kim for having contact with South Korea and the United States, saying that the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula has entered a “phase of stability.” He expressed full support for the North’s commitment to denuclearization.

“He said that Russia fully supports the DPRK’s determination and stand on the DPRK-U.S. summit high on the agenda and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and wishes for their good successes,” the KCNA reported.

Lavrov’s visit comes as the North is preparing for an unprecedented summit between its leader and U.S. President Donald Trump, which will likely take place in Singapore on June 12. He is the first Russian foreign minister to visit North Korea in nine years.

Lavrov conveyed a message to Kim from Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Putin reportedly expressed “best wishes” for the success of the recent diplomacy.

They also agreed to hold a summit between Kim and Putin “this year.”

“Agreed at the conversation was to invigorate high-ranking visits, activate exchange and cooperation in different fields and, especially, realize the meeting between the top leaders of the DPRK and Russia this year marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations,” the KCNA reported.

The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States held phone talks on Friday about this week’s meetings in New York to prepare for a possible Washington-Pyongyang summit, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

During the 25-minute talks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained to his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha the outcome of his talks with Kim Yong-chol, a vice central committee chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.

Pompeo and Kim held talks on Wednesday and Thursday apparently to finalize preparations for the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expected to be held in Singapore on June 12. The high-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang have indicated that the two sides have made progress on a range of issues, including sensitive agenda items and logistics, analysts here said.

Kang took note of close communication and cooperation between Seoul and Washington regarding the summit preparations, and discussed with Pompeo various ways to maintain the current momentum for dialogue, seek complete denuclearization and establish lasting peace on the peninsula, her office said in a press release.

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