Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov’s interview with TASS news agency, January 20, 2018

Monday, 22 January 2018 16:22

QuestionMr. Morgulov, in early January South Korea and North Korea had their first top-level negotiations in two years. In the last few weeks, North and South Korean representatives have met three times. What do you think of the prospects of direct negotiations between Seoul and Pyongyang?

Igor Morgulov: We, of course, welcome the resumption of Korean dialogue, its agenda and the agreements that the parties reached at their first meetings. I would like to emphasise that the direct dialogue between representatives of North and South Korea is part of the Russia-China roadmap for resolving the situation on the Korean peninsula; therefore, we see the resumed negotiations as a step in the right direction.

We believe that direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul should be maintained and expanded to include Russia’s earlier initiative to pursue trilateral economic projects between Russia and the two Koreas.

Question: Washington has repeatedly declared its intention to exert maximum pressure on Pyongyang. Do you think these statements could stand in the way of implementing agreements between North and South Korea?

Igor Morgulov: As for the pressure on Pyongyang, last December the international community unanimously adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2375 to coordinate measures in response to North Korea’s missile tests. We call on Washington to strictly comply with the resolution. Coordinated international sanctions should be the only instrument of pressure on Pyongyang.

As for any additional measures, Russia has never been in favour of unilateral restrictions that bypass the UN Security Council.

Question: Another element of the Korean resolution roadmap drawn up by Russia and China is direct negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington. Is Moscow ready to help to launch such a dialogue? Do you think such a meeting could take place soon?

Igor Morgulov: I think the question of scheduling such a meeting should be readdressed to our colleagues in Washington and Pyongyang. Moscow is certainly willing to assist in facilitating a direct dialogue between the United States and North Korea as soon as possible.

Question: Moscow has repeatedly emphasised that the Russian Federation and the United States have continued to keep in contact on the situation on the Korean peninsula. Your contact with US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun is one of the main negotiating formats on this issue. Where and when will your next meeting take place?

Igor Morgulov: The timeframe for the meeting in this format remains to be confirmed. Joseph Yun has received my invitation but the details and the date are still to be determined via diplomatic channels.

I can confirm that my next meeting with the US Special Representative for North Korea Policy will take place in Moscow.

Question: North Korean Foreign Ministry officials have visited Moscow several times. Will there be another visit soon?

Igor Morgulov: I will not rule out new contact with Pyongyang’s delegates through Foreign Ministry channels in Moscow before the Olympic Games. The consultations between the heads of the relevant departments of the foreign ministries will mostly focus on bilateral issues, though.

Question: Less than a month is left until the Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Does Moscow have any concerns about possible conflict escalation on the Korean peninsula during the Olympic Games?

Igor Morgulov: We hope the situation will not be exacerbated. The resumed direct dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang and the agreements it has produced give us reason to expect the Olympic Games to be a relatively stable period in the situation on the Korean peninsula. At least, Moscow really hopes so.

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