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VLADIVOSTOK, September 7. /TASS/. North Korea should be involved in joint projects in order to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum’s plenary meeting.
"North Korea needs to be gradually involved in regional cooperation, Russia has some specific proposals that everyone knows about, which include building a joint railway connecting the Trans-Siberian Railway and Korean railways through North Korea, as well as the development of pipeline transport and North Korea’s ports to name a few," Putin said.
"We have much to offer and much to work on," he added. "At the same time, creating military atmosphere and raising hysteria is counterproductive and will lead nowhere," the Russian leader stressed.
Pyongyang considers nuclear weapons to be its only defense, so it is unwilling to abandon them, Putin said.
"They [North Korea] believe that owing nuclear weapons and missile technology provides them with the only opportunity to defend themselves," he said. "Do you think they will be ready to abandon it all?" Putin added.
He pointed out that in Iraq, the entire leadership had been eliminated under a far-fetched pretext, about which North Korea remembered very well.
Putin also said that the current situation was a result of Pyongyang’s provocations. "But it they do what they do, while they are not silly at all, it means that they expect a certain response from their opponents," the Russian leader noted. "So why do you play along?" Putin said.
He called for showing readiness to cooperate and ensure the security of North Korea, as well as for defining clear and acceptable working conditions. "I assure you, if this path is adopted, then the situation in the region will gradually change, as well as relations between the Pyongyang and Seoul, and we will be able to expect some new steps," Putin stressed. "However, it is impossible to scare them," he added.
According to the Russian leader. Pyongyang believes that the global community’s next step will be inviting North Korea "to a cemetery." "They will not agree to that," Putin said.
Weapons of mass destruction will not be used to resolve the North Korea issue and the conflict will not expand, Russian president said answering questions by participants in the Eastern Economic Forum. He added that it was possible to resolve the situation through talks.
"Just like my South Korean counterpart, I am confident that the conflict will neither expand nor involve the use weapons of mass destruction, as all the parties will have enough common to understand their responsibility to the people of the region, so we will succeed in resolving the issue through diplomatic means," the Russian president said.
Putin pointed out that he had discussed the North Korean issue with the leaders of Japan and North Korea. He said that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had emphasized the need to resolve the North Korean issue through diplomatic means. "I have also discussed it with the Japanese prime minister many times, and as far as I know, he agrees that there is a need to find diplomatic means," Putin said.
"In 2005, we were close to coming to terms, as agreements had been reached stipulating that North Korea makes a commitment to wrap up its missile and nuclear programs, while other participants facilitate the process, we also spoke about the need to restore good relations between North and South Korea, as well as about the possibility to implement trilateral projects involving Russia, North and South Korea," Putin noted. However, in his words, "at some point, unfortunately, someone demanded that North Korea do what it hadn’t promised to do, and the situation began to slowly degrade, eventually reaching the current low level."
"We should be concerned, but we should also cooperate to resolve the issue. I would like to underline that we are capable of achieving positive results," Putin stated.
"You asked if we should be concerned over this situation and if it was possible to continue investing. I answer both questions in the affirmative," the Russian president said addressing participants in the Eastern Economic Forum.
In his opinion, "it is a right thing to be alarmed - alarmed one should be when there are such tensions in the region, but there is a need to continue investing because if you stop economic activities in the region, the situation will deteriorate instead of improving."