North Korea Open to Direct Talks with US, Says Russia

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said North Korea is open to direct talks with the US and passed that message on to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

North Korea Open to Direct Talks with US, Says Russia

Russian news agencies reported that while speaking at a summit in Vienna, Austria Mr. Lavrov noted the talks would likely be contingent on “security guarantees.”

“We know that North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations,” Mr. Lavrov said, Independent reported.

“Our American colleagues, (including) Rex Tillerson, have heard this.”

Experts have said repeatedly that Pyongyang may be basing its need for security guarantees on recent US treatment of Iran.

In October, US President Donald Trump announced he would not re-certify a nuclear deal signed by Iran and six world powers - a signature foreign policy achievement by predecessor President Barack Obama.

Despite the evidence provided by the United Nations on Tehran's compliance with the deal, Mr. Trump said it was too lenient on Iran and that they had violated portions of it.

It opened the door for harsher economic sanctions to be placed on the country, the mitigation of which was a key inducement for Iran to comply with the historic deal.

The meeting between Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Tillerson took place the same day the United Nations made its first official visit to North Korea in six years.

Tensions have continued to rise between Pyongyang and Washington.

Late last month, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) - the Hwasong-15 which is reportedly capable of reaching the east coast of the US.

It was the first test the hermit kingdom had conducted in two months, its 20th overall, and its seventh actual launch of a weapon.

It also reportedly went approximately 2,800 miles (4,000 km) up into the atmosphere before landing in the Sea of Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese authorities. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the latest missile did fly higher than previous ones.

The launch came just one week after the US declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, imposing new economic sanctions on the country.

North Korea was last on the state-sponsored terror list in 2008, under the George W Bush administration. It was removed that year in a bid to salvage a deal halting its nuclear development.

Mr. Tillerson said that attempt at negotiations "obviously failed."

The latest missile launch also adds to mounting tensions between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who have traded jabs at each other - the US President called Mr. Kim “Rocket Man” and he in turn called Mr. Trump a “dotard”.

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