Sunday 20 October 2019

Kim asks Putin to be middleman in nuclear arms talks with the US

First impressions: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un presents a sword to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin following their talks in Vladivostok. Photo: Reuters
First impressions: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un presents a sword to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin following their talks in Vladivostok. Photo: Reuters

Alec Luhn

Vladimir Putin said Kim Jong-un has asked him to serve as an intermediary with the US after the North Korean leader's nuclear disarmament talks with Donald Trump collapsed.

The Russian and North Korean leaders met for the first time in Vladivostok yesterday, allowing Moscow to reinsert itself into the dialogue around denuclearisation.

Mr Putin will next head to China, where he will discuss the issue with Xi Jinping, its president. "Chairman Kim asked us to inform the American side of his position on questions that have arisen amid the processes taking place on the Korean peninsula," said Mr Putin. "So there are no secrets here. We will discuss this with our American and Chinese friends."

Last week, Pyongyang demanded Mr Trump replace the "reckless" Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, as his lead negotiator and claimed it had tested a new "tactical guided weapon with a powerful warhead".

"It is my and my government's firm strategic position that the strategic and traditional friendly relations between North Korea and Russia be strengthened," Mr Kim said at the talks. He did not join the press conference afterwards.

Russia was in favour of Pyongyang's "full denuclearisation," Mr Putin said, and he suggested that Washington's overreaching demands and supposedly threatening posture hindered this. In a clear shot at the US, he said he and Mr Kim had discussed the need to "return to a situation when international law, not the law of the fist, decides the order of things in the world".

"North Korea needs a guarantee of its security, of the preservation of its sovereignty," he said. "What guarantees could there be besides those made under international law?" He also said he welcomed Mr Kim's efforts to "normalise North Korean-US relations".

Russia and China drafted a road map in 2017 calling for a step-by-step approach to rolling back North Korea's nuclear programme, while Mr Trump has sought a sweeping disarmament in exchange for sanctions relief.

While Mr Putin said the two sides discussed sanctions during more than two-and-a-half hours of talks, he did not provide further details.

Telegraph.co.uk

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