Putin, Trump discussed North Korea in phone call: Kremlin

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Trump at the Apec Summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Nov 11. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programme with United States (US) counterpart Donald Trump in a phone call on Thursday (Dec 14), the Kremlin said.

The two heads of state discussed "the situation in several crisis zones, with a focus on solving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula", it said in a statement, without elaborating.

Washington this week said it was ready to talk to North Korea - which has launched several intercontinental ballistic missiles in recent months - "without preconditions".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that while the Trump administration was still determined to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, it was willing to "have the first meeting without preconditions".

Putin, in his annual press conference with hundreds of journalists in Moscow on Thursday, welcomed the United States' "awareness of reality" in the crisis.

However, he called on all sides to "stop aggravating the situation" and said Moscow did not recognise North Korea's status as a nuclear power.

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