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Report: Russia offered to mediate U.S.-North Korea talks

By
Elizabeth Shim
Choe Son Hui arrives at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on Oct. 17. Choe turned down a Russian offer for talks with the United States, according to a Japanese press report. File Photo by Yonhap
Choe Son Hui arrives at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow on Oct. 17. Choe turned down a Russian offer for talks with the United States, according to a Japanese press report. File Photo by Yonhap

Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Russia attempted to mediate negotiations between North Korea and the United States in September and again in October, but efforts failed after North Korea turned down the offers, according to a Japanese newspaper.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Monday that Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Morgulov had offered to broker talks while Choe Son Hui, the director general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry, was in Moscow in September.

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Morgulov reportedly said that if North Korea desires talks, the Russian government was "willing to mediate" the U.S.-North Korea meeting.

If Choe had agreed, Russia would have invited U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun to Moscow in mid-October for an initial round of talks, according to the report.

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Choe, however, refused the Russian offer and said the timing was not right for negotiations.

"If at this time North Korea-U.S. negotiations happen an unequal bargaining will take place, including the unilateral imposition of the denuclearization of North Korea," Choe had said, according to the Asahi.

During the 2017 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference in October, Choe said North Korea was defending itself through nuclear weapons development and that her country would "not follow in the footsteps of Iraq and Libya."

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The Japanese newspaper also reported North Korea did not consent to a dialogue on the release of three detained U.S. citizens.

Pyongyang may be carefully monitoring U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Asia.

Ahead of his visit to Seoul, North Korea called Trump a "warmongering maniac," South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Monday.

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North Korea also warned Trump against "jumping around" or taking actions that could lead to a "war of madness."

The Kim Jong Un regime has refrained from provocations after tensions reached new highs following the indirect exchange of verbal insults between Kim and Trump in September.

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