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(News Focus) Moon, Putin agree on need to denuclearize N. Korea, but differ on methods

2017/09/06 18:22

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By Byun Duk-kun

VLADIVOSTOK, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Russian President Vladimir Putin both called for efforts to stop North Korea from making any more provocations and denuclearize the communist state Wednesday, but differed over how to do so.

In a joint press conference following their bilateral talks here, the two leaders underscored the urgency of the North Korean nuclear issue and the importance of resolving it at the earliest date possible.

"Russia cannot accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. The North's nuclear provocations have violated U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions," Putin told the press conference.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands before the start of their bilateral summit in Vladivostok, Russia on Sept. 6, 2017. (Yonhap) South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands before the start of their bilateral summit in Vladivostok, Russia on Sept. 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

The Moon-Putin meeting came three days after Pyongyang staged its sixth and apparently the most powerful nuclear test so far based on the scale of the tremors created by the nuclear detonation at a test site near the northeastern tip of the communist state.

Also condemning the latest nuclear provocation, the South Korean president said he and his Russian counterpart agreed that resolving the North Korean nuclear issue at the earliest date possible was the most important task facing their two countries and the rest of the world.

"We also shared the view that nuclear arms and missiles sought by the North are leading down the wrong path, and that it was urgently needed to ease tensions," he said.

The two, however, clearly had differing ideas on how to resolve the issue.

Moon, a strong advocate of dialogue with the reclusive North, continues to stress the need to resolve the issue peacefully and through negotiations.

Still, the South Korean leader says the North must first show its willingness for talks, or at least promise to stop additional provocations, before they can talk.

"I will not avoid any type of dialogue if it can help resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. But I believe the current conditions require us to strongly condemn North Korea's dangerous provocations and pressure the North, and that right now is not the time for dialogue," the South Korean president said in an interview with TASS Russian News Agency, released Tuesday by his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) speaks in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the outcome of their bilateral summit held in Vladivostok, Russia on Sept. 6, 2017. (Yonhap) South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) speaks in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the outcome of their bilateral summit held in Vladivostok, Russia on Sept. 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

Putin apparently thought differently.

"But the situation on the Korean Peninsula cannot be resolved with sanctions and pressure only. We do not need to react emotionally and corner North Korea into a dead end," he said, calling for what Seoul officials here called an unconditional resumption of dialogue with the North.

The apparent gap between Moon and Putin further widened when it came to how they should lure Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

Moon asked Russia to help push for a new sanctions resolution by the UNSC that would cut off oil supplies to the energy-starved North.

"President Moon said they must intensify the severity of UNSC sanctions at least to place North Korea on the track to dialogue," said Yoon Young-chan, the chief press secretary from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

"The president asked Russia to help, noting it was imperative to at least cut off the oil supply of North Korea this time," he told a press briefing.

Putin remained reluctant to comply.

"We too are opposing and denouncing North Korea's nuclear development. However, I am concerned cutting off the oil supply to North Korea may cause damage to people in hospitals or other ordinary citizens," the Russian president was quoted as saying.

He apparently sought to pass the buck to China, the North's largest communist ally, saying his country only exported some 40,000 tons of oil a year to the North.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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