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Moscow hopes US, North Korean leaders will meet - Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister called the planned meeting "a step in the right direction"

ADDIS ABABA, March 9. /TASS/. Russia hopes that the agreement on a meeting between the US and North Korean leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, will be implemented, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

"We consider it to be a step in the right direction. Hopefully, the agreement will be implemented. Obviously it is necessary for normalizing the situation around the Korean peninsula," he said. "We also welcome the agreement reached by Seoul and Pyongyang to hold an inter-Korean summit in April," Lavrov added.

"This all is what both the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China and many other countries have called for, taking a stand in favor of clearing the air around the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula and using not threats, ultimatums, unilateral sanctions, but a dialogue based on mutual respect, through looking for such agreements that all sides will be satisfied with," Russia’s top diplomat said.

Lavrov refused to provide comments on Washington’s statements that Pyongyang was forced to come to the negotiating table due to sanctions. "I will not comment on whether it was the pressure of sanctions that helped reach an agreement to organize a top-level meeting between Washington and Pyongyang. I think that each side wants to present its interpretation as correct. Let’s not elaborate on what triggered this agreement, what is important is that it has been reached," he said.

"What is even more important is to make sure that the agreement will be implemented instead of ending in nothing, but will open up the way to a full-fledged political negotiation process to be resumed to settle the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula based on existing principles approved at the six-party talks and at the UN Security Council," Lavrov explained.

On Thursday South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told reporters at the White House that US President Donald Trump said he was ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May.