Top US, Russian diplomats discuss need for urgent North Korea negotiations

Russian Federation and China have the relatively closest diplomatic relations with insular North Korea, which poses a nuclear threat to its neighbor South Korea and that country's allies Japan and the U.S.

"Treasury is targeting leaders of North Korea's ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate (North Korea) and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a renowned diplomat known for his no-frills attitude, told reporters that the Kremlin's "readiness to clear the way for de-escalation [in the Korean Peninsula] is obvious", and that Russian Federation should be looked upon as a serious arbiter in the region.

Lavrov's petitions for dialogue come less than a week after the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to impose sweeping new sanctions on North Korea as outcome of its latest missile test on November 29.

South Korean daily newspaper Joongang Ilbo reported: 'Through various channels, we've recently learned that the North has completed a new satellite and named it Kwangmyongsong-5.

Tensions have risen over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of years of UN Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House. North Korean officials said that the test put United States within the range of its ICBM.

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South Korea predicted today that their hostile neighbours would look to open negotiations with the United States next year in an optimistic outlook for 2018.

It said Lavrov underscored the need for "the fastest move to the negotiating process from the language of sanctions". But then the U.S. launched an emergency exercise, which North Korea ignored.

The measures order North Koreans working overseas to return home within two years and ban almost 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to the country.

Kim Jong-un interprets this as preparations for invasion.

  • Megan Austin