Russia's Putin: No need to be 'swept up' by North Korea provocations

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Sept. 6, 2017 at 9:42 AM
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Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin would never recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, he said during a joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

But Putin also called for calm and urged avoiding being "swept up" by emotions that could only heighten tensions on the peninsula.

Putin, who is the second world leader to hold a summit with Moon, said "special attention" was placed on the "situation on the Korean peninsula" during talks, South Korean news service Newsis reported.

"I firmly expressed the position of Russia to President Moon Jae-in," Putin said. "Russia will never accept nor acknowledge North Korea's nuclear status."

Earlier during a live broadcast of Putin's statement, there was initial confusion over a Korean translation of his speech that suggested Russia would "never tolerate" North Korea's nuclear weapons, an approach with different policy consequences.

Putin's statement indicates Russia will look past North Korea's belligerent approach, and, as Putin stated earlier at the BRICS Summit in Beijing, not be drawn into "military hysteria" over Pyongyang's provocations, according to the report.

"There is no need to be swept up by emotions, and drive North Korea into a dead-end road," Putin said. "Now more than ever, a calm posture is needed to avoid raising tensions."

"Without a political and diplomatic solution, this is hard to do," the Russian leader added.

Putin arrived at the summit 34 minutes late, a move that some experts say is diplomatic taboo, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The Russian president has previously kept German Chancellor Angela Merkel waiting for four hours -- in 2014 -- and stood up Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for two hours in 2016.

Moon reportedly frowned when Putin told reporters the North Korea crisis cannot be "resolved by sanctions alone," a sign Moscow could be hesitant to press forward with fresh penalties at the United Nations Security Council.

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