Russia: Leaving North Korea out of nuclear talks would isolate regime

South Korea had recently suggested six-party talks without North Korea.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 26, 2016 at 12:21 PM
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MOSCOW, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Russia is not in favor of holding a meeting among members of the six-party talks without North Korea in attendance.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday a "five-party talks" gathering of nations working toward North Korea denuclearization would only lead to Pyongyang's further isolation, Sputnik news agency reported.

South Korea had recently suggested six-party talks without North Korea – and Alexander Timonin, Russia's ambassador to Seoul, had said the nuclear crisis should be resolved through dialogue.

But speaking at an annual press conference in Moscow, Lavrov said, "It would not be a good idea" to leave North Korea out of a resolution to the issue.

Such a move would only send a signal to Pyongyang that its neighbors seek to further isolate the country after the North's claimed hydrogen bomb test on Jan. 6, Lavrov said, adding that the international community should "not repeat the mistake of isolating Iran."

The top Russian diplomat also said Moscow is working closely with China and other members, and that despite the challenges, the "six-party talks should be resumed by all means."

Other members of the six-party talks, including the United States, Japan and South Korea, have held an emergency meeting in response to North Korea's bomb test.

The three parties agreed to strengthen sanctions, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to raise the issue again during his visit to Beijing this week.

As diplomats are working toward building consensus, North Korea continues to develop other weapons, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

But a South Korean report on the North's SLBM program is at the center of a new initiative in Seoul – to tighten "information leaks" to the press, South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.

A military source told press Tuesday a security audit of the entire joint chiefs of staff is to be launched after a January press leak.

The leaks have an adverse effect on the U.S.-South Korea alliance, the source said.

An employee at the joint chiefs was arrested on Jan. 11 for the recent disclosure on North Korea's SLBM program.

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