MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. The latest statements made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Washington’s willingness to hold direct talks with Pyongyang are a very good signal, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual news conference on Thursday.
"As follows from what Mr. Tillerson said, the United States looks ready for direct contacts. This is a very good signal, which indicates that there is some progress in the American leadership in general and in the Department of State, the awareness of realities," the Russian president said.
He recalled that an agreement had been reached in principle with Pyongyang in 2005 on the termination of its nuclear program.
"However, a few months later, the United States thought these agreements were not enough, the accounts of North Korean banks were blocked. It said that North Korea should do something else outside the agreements," Putin noted. "In response, North Korea withdrew from these agreements and began to develop its nuclear program again. Why did you do that? You actually provoked North Korea to quit them."
"Pyongyang sees no other way of self-protection than the development of weapons of mass destruction and missile program," the Russian leader said. "We believe that both sides (the US and North Korea) should stop whipping up tensions. It is necessary to end this spiral, because this is a very dangerous thing. One North Korean launch will be enough to make its consequences disastrous," Putin stressed.
The US decision to slap sanctions on Russia on par with North Korea and then call for mutual efforts on Pyongyang’s nuclear program is beyond common sense, Vladimir Putin noted.
"Your congressmen and senators, who look good and seem to be smart, have put us alongside North Korea and Iran. At the same time, they are prodding the president [Donald Trump] to persuade us to solve the problems of North Korea and the Iranian nuclear program together with you," Putin said.
"Are you people normal or not? It’s strange, you should agree. This is beyond common sense," he stressed.
"We are still trying to work constructively with everyone on hot-button international security issues. We try not to pout our lips and not get offended at someone’s decisions, which are sometimes incomprehensible to us, to tell you the truth," he explained.
Putin noted that Moscow’s position on Pyongyang is well-known. "We do not recognize North Korea’s nuclear status," the president stated. "We believe that everything that is happening there is counterproductive."