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Putin, Trump discuss North Korean nuclear issue by phone

The sides agreed to maintain contact

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. The presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, have held a phone conversation to discuss various international issues, including the Korean nuclear problem, the Kremlin press service said on Friday.

"On the US initiative, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump have held a phone conversation. Acute issues of bilateral relations, as well as the situation in crisis hotspots worldwide were discussed, with an emphasis placed on settling the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue," the press service said in a statement.

The sides agreed to maintain contact, the Kremlin said.

The White House said later in the day that the two leaders "discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea." 

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been whipped up by both the missile and nuclear weapon programs of North Korea and military drills of the United States and its allies. In July, North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles. On August 29 and September 15, the country launched two more missiles that flew over Japan. On September 3, North Korea carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test. As a result, the United Nations Security Council toughened sanctions against the country.

A new round of tension around North Korea spiraled on November 29 when Pyongyang carried out a missile launch, the first one since September 15. According to North Korea’s KCNA news agency, a Hwasong-15 new-type missile covered a distance of 950 kilometers in a span of 53 minutes rising to an altitude of 4,475 kilometers. According to Japan’s defense ministry, the missile fell down some 250 kilometers of the northern Aomori Prefecture. According to experts, the brand-new missile is capable of covering the distance of up to 13,000 kilometers targeting the entire US territory.

On December 4, South Korea’s and the US’ air forces launched the biggest-ever joint drills Vigilant Ace 18 on the Korean Peninsula. In response, the North Korean foreign ministry condemned the drills saying that the United States’ campaign on demonizing North Korea was a step towards warfare while North Korea was pursuing "a legitimate and fair goal through reinforcing its nuclear means of deterrence."