Need to provide North Korea with security guarantees: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky Island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok yesterday. The summit was the first between lea
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky Island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok yesterday. The summit was the first between leaders of both countries since 2011.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mr Putin with Mr Kim after their talks yesterday. Beside them is a sword that was presented to the Russian leader. Mr Putin described the summit as "thorough one-on-one talks", while Mr Kim said he hoped to continue "fruitful and constructive" talks
Mr Putin with Mr Kim after their talks yesterday. Beside them is a sword that was presented to the Russian leader. Mr Putin described the summit as "thorough one-on-one talks", while Mr Kim said he hoped to continue "fruitful and constructive" talks with Russia.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

This will build confidence in denuclearisation talks, he says after summit with Kim

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who held his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday, has stressed the need to provide North Korea with international security guarantees if it is expected to denuclearise.

His remarks come amid a nuclear deadlock between the North and the United States after summit talks broke down in February. Mr Kim has since sought closer ties with Moscow.

Yesterday, the two leaders also reaffirmed bilateral ties during what Mr Putin described as "thorough one-on-one talks" and exchanged views on how Russia can "support the positive processes" towards denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

Mr Putin said he will convey North Korea's position on the nuclear issue to the US and China. "There are no secrets here. We will discuss this with the Americans and our Chinese partners," he added.

Security was tight in the Russian city of Vladivostok as the Putin-Kim summit began in the Far Eastern Federal University and ended with a gala reception.

The summit - the first between the two countries since 2011 - came as Russia, part of the six-party denuclearisation talks that have stalled since 2008, sought to expand its role in North-east Asia.

Mr Putin flew in to Vladivostok on a helicopter from the Siberian city of Chita, while Mr Kim arrived in his armoured train.

Details of their meeting, which lasted 3½hours, were not revealed. But both leaders appeared pleased with the outcome.

Mr Kim voiced hopes to continue "fruitful and constructive" talks with Russia.

"The entire world is focused on the Korean peninsula, and I believe we can have very meaningful dialogue and evaluate and share our views on this together," he said in his opening address, according to Russian news agency Tass.

The Russian leader welcomed Pyongyang's efforts to normalise ties with Seoul and establish dialogue with Washington, adding that Moscow was also working hard to promote progress in resolving the nuclear issue.

Mr Putin, who arrived in Beijing last night to attend the Belt and Road Forum, said he would inform the Chinese leadership about the results of his summit with Mr Kim.

 
 
 
 

He also said he will have an open and sincere discussion with the US. There is a chance he might meet his US counterpart, President Donald Trump, at the upcoming Group of 20 meetings in Japan in June.

He added that the interests of Russia and the US are aligned in the Korean peninsula issue, with the reduction of nuclear threats being "our common priority". Russia "backs full denuclearisation", he said.

Nuclear talks between the US and North Korea have stalled over US demands that the North should offer more than just the dismantling of its main nuclear facility in return for the lifting of five major sanctions.

Pyongyang tried to urge flexibility, but Washington insisted on maintaining maximum pressure and sanctions.

Mr Putin said he is "not sure these talks need to be resumed right now".

"But I am confident that if we reach a stage where we will need to develop some kind of... security guarantees for North Korea, international guarantees will be necessary," he added.

Such guarantees will be the essential first steps towards building confidence, said Mr Putin.

Meanwhile, in Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who played a key role as a mediator between the US and the North, said the Kim-Putin summit could promote peace in the region.

Observers said the talks went smoothly and Mr Kim achieved what he set out to do - gain Russian support.

"Putin is officially endorsing Kim Jong Un's insistence that US-North Korea negotiation should be based on step-by-step reciprocal action," Dr Hoo Chiew Ping of the National University of Malaysia told The Straits Times.

"By citing the Korean saying that rocks can be moved by joining forces, Putin is also saying that the major stakeholders are aligned in supporting the continuation of talks and implying that the US should remove obstacles by providing some form of security guarantee," she said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2019, with the headline 'Need to provide N. Korea with security guarantees: Putin'. Print Edition | Subscribe