Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A Russian diplomat in Seoul on Tuesday said Moscow and Beijing deserve recognition for improved inter-Korea relations and U.S.-North Korea dialogue.
Igor Morgulov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, agreed with South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do-hoon the United States and North Korea should resume dialogue as soon as possible, despite the postponement of talks owing to differences over denuclearization and sanctions.
But Morgulov also said the "joint efforts" of stakeholders have improved U.S.-North Korea relations and helped with the resumption of inter-Korea exchange.
The Russian special envoy said the improvements were made because of a "road map" that was proposed jointly by Russia and China, Yonhap reported.
Lee said Russia's role is crucial to the peace process.
"We are pleased to have close communication between Korea and Russia at a crucial time for complete denuclearization and permanent peace building," Lee said at the meeting, adding the "momentum" of dialogue with North Korea is the result of efforts from countries like Russia.
"There are a lot of challenges to overcome," Lee said. "We need cooperation and support from the international community in order to overcome various difficult problems and to engage in dialogue. Russia's role, as a permanent member of the [United Nations] Security Council, is especially important."
Morgulov's statement offered a different view from U.S. policymakers who have credited the Trump administration's policy of "maximum pressure," including heavy sanctions, for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table.
Russia and China have called for North Korea sanctions relief.
South Korean news service EDaily reported Tuesday Seoul's foreign ministry has been engaged in "close consultations" with member states of the six-party talks, and that Lee is preparing to meet with U.S. special representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun.
The U.S. envoy will be in South Korea starting Wednesday for a series of meetings, according to the report.
Lee and Biegun last met a month ago in Washington, when the two countries launched a working-level group to discuss North Korea issues.