Russia’s positive role on N. Korea

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RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin told his newly elected South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, in a phone call on Friday that he is ready to play a constructive role in resolving North Korea’s nuclear threat. Putin made the comments following Moon’s remarks that the foremost task to boost cooperation between the two countries was to strengthen strategic bilateral communication to find a solution to curb North Korea’s nuclear threat.
The interest shown by Moscow is welcome as tension is rising because of rigid stance adopted by the US leadership on the issue of handling of the issue of nuclearization of Korean Peninsula and missiles and nuclear tests by the North. Chinese leadership too has expressed its willingness to play its role in defusing the crisis in the Korean Peninsula but there are marked differences on how to achieve this objective. Beijing rightfully relies on inducements to Pyongyang as the preferred tools and dialogue and restraint on the part of Washington but the new US administration is relying more on sanctions and military/strategic response. South Korea’s decision to install a U.S. anti-missile system in defence against the North is also upsetting China, which considers it as a threat to its national security as well. This means more tension and mistrust, which would not be helpful in realization of the objective of restoring peace and tranquillity in the region. As North has firmly stated it would speed up its nuclear programme in retaliation to the tougher economic sanctions, there is dire need to return to the negotiating table. Moscow, together with China, is in a position to remove irritants in the way of revival of six-party talks on North Korea, which were shelved in 2008 on flimsy grounds as this is the only way to ensure sustainable peace in the area.