Senior officials from North Korea and Russia agreed to increase efforts to resume six-party talks, which ended in 2007, on Pyongyang's nuclear program. The decision was made when both sides met in Moscow last week, South Korea's Yonhap reported, citing KCNA, the North’s official news agency.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Choe Ryong-hae, a special envoy for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, also agreed to improve political, economic and military ties next year, Yonhap reported, citing KCNA. The discussions, which took place during Choe’s weeklong visit to Russia starting Nov. 17, have led to further speculation about a summit meeting between Putin and Kim early next year. Choe also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and discussed how to revive the six-party talks that aim to find a peaceful solution to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Yonhap reported, citing KCNA.
The six-party talks began in 2003 between the U.S., South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan and Russia, and continued until 2007. However, progress on the talks reached a dead end when North Korea walked out of the negotiations in 2009, and after a year, revealed a uranium enrichment facility, according to the Council for Foreign Relations, an independent think tank. In 2012, Pyongyang said that it will suspend nuclear tests and allow international inspectors to monitor its nuclear program in return for food aid from the U.S. But, in late 2012, North Korea launched a long-range missile and conducted another test in 2013.
The U.S. has resisted pressure from the North to resume the talks and has demanded that the country first halt its nuclear weapons program. Since 2006, the North has conducted three nuclear tests. And, last week, North Korea warned that it would conduct a fourth nuclear test and enhance its military capabilities in retaliation to a resolution from the United Nations over the North's human rights violations.
Choe, who is also the secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, was accompanied by Kim Kye-gwan, vice foreign minister; Ri Kwang-gun, vice economy minister; and No Kwang-chol, deputy chief of the General Staff of the North Korean military, Yonhap reported, citing KCNA.