MOSCOW • Russia and China yesterday called for a simultaneous freeze on North Korean nuclear and missile tests and military exercises by the United States as tensions ratcheted up on the peninsula.
"The two sides propose that the DPRK (North Korea) as a voluntary political decision declares a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, and the US and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises," their foreign ministries said in a joint statement.
"Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations, including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful coexistence," the statement said.
The joint statement, issued after a meeting between their leaders, Mr Vladimir Putin and Mr Xi Jinping, in Moscow followed an announcement by North Korea that it had test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile.
The claim could be a watershed moment in Pyongyang's push to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting mainland US - although Moscow and Washington cast doubt it was a long-range missile.
In their joint statement, Russia and China condemned the missile test announcement as "unacceptable" and urged against "any statements or actions that could lead to an increase in tensions".
China has previously called for a "dual-track" approach of "suspension for suspension" that would see North Korea and the US ease up on tensions, and now Russia has added its weight to the plan.
Trump and Putin to meet on Friday
WASHINGTON/MOSCOW • United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on Friday afternoon, the White House confirmed yesterday.
The Kremlin also confirmed the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders will take place in Germany on Friday during the Group of 20 (G-20) summit.
"It has been agreed for July 7," top Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies, without giving further details.
Ties between Washington and Moscow plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War after the Kremlin's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Hopes have waned in Moscow of an improvement in ties with the US, as accusations that Mr Putin ordered a hacking and influence campaign to get Mr Trump elected have made any links to Moscow politically toxic for the White House.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Moscow and Beijing also used the same joint declaration to call on Washington to immediately halt deployment of its Thaad anti-missile system in South Korea, a move Washington says is necessitated by the North Korean missile threat.
The statement said Washington was using North Korea as a pretext to expand its military infrastructure in Asia and risked upsetting the strategic balance of power in the area.
"The deployment... of Thaad will cause serious harm to the strategic security interests of regional states, including Russia and China," the statement said.
"Russia and China oppose the deployment of such systems and call on the relevant countries to immediately halt and cancel the process of deployment."
The meeting between the two leaders in Moscow was meant to focus on bolstering trade ties between their countries, with deals worth billions of dollars expected to be signed.
North Korea, however, moved up on the agenda after the latest test by Pyongyang.
"Economic questions are always at the centre of our attention but we are also engaged in coordinating our efforts on the international arena," Mr Putin told Mr Xi at the start of the talks, their third official meeting this year.
Mr Xi, in turn, praised the "special character" of China's ties with Russia.
He called the two nations "good neighbours, faithful friends and reliable partners" in comments translated into Russian.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS