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N Korea FM makes rare Moscow visit amid diplomatic thaw

AFP  |  Moscow 

North Korea's foreign held rare talks with his Russian counterpart in today, as moves to improve strained ties with its neighbours.

Ri Yong Ho's visit came ahead of planned nuclear summits between the North's Un and the presidents of and the in the coming weeks.

Russian Foreign welcomed Ri to today, saying that "is as inclined as ever to develop good neighbourly relations with North Korea".

His North Korean counterpart said he hoped for further "development of our relations" in comments translated into Russian.

After the meeting, Lavrov answered questions from journalists alone, saying the ministers "examined in some detail" the nuclear situation on the peninsula.

"The Russian side confirmed that we welcome gradual normalisation of the situation, an end to mutual threats and readiness for contact between the two Koreas as well as between and the US," Lavrov said.

He said that upcoming talks should aim at denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but stipulated that must also receive "cast-iron guarantees" of its security.

He added that he had accepted an invitation for a return visit to Pyongyang, without giving a date.

Alexander Vorontsov, a specialist on the Koreas from Moscow's Oriental Studies Institute, said it was "particularly important (for Pyongyang) to enlist support, including from Russia, to cover its back" before further summits.

Ri visited last week for talks with his Chinese counterpart, after North Korean Un made a landmark trip to last month.

The most recent North Korean ministerial-level visit to saw the external economic relations visit Vladivostok in September.

Kim was expected to attend 2015 celebrations in for but opted not to go at the last minute.

The leader's secretive three-day meeting with Chinese in March was his first trip abroad since gaining power from his late father in 2011. is North Korea's main trading partner.

The visit was seen as a gesture of reconciliation after months of high tensions over the North's missile and nuclear programmes.

Kim is due to hold a summit with South Korea's Moon Jae-in on April 27 in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean peninsula, in only the third meeting of its kind.

A landmark meeting with US is planned to follow -- although no specific dates or venue have been set.

The diplomatic thaw began during in South Korea, to which Kim sent athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an

The stunning detente with the US comes after last year fired multiple missiles and carried out its most powerful nuclear test.

Trump in turn hurled insults at Kim, calling him a "madman with nuclear weapons" and said that a military option against was "locked and loaded".

If the summits with Moon and Trump are a success, "it will be a turning point, a breakthrough," said Vorontsov.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 10 2018. 17:15 IST