North Korea continues its diplomatic efforts to garner support ahead of summit talks with South Korea and the United States.
After meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit last week, North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.
Ri is the highest ranking North Korean official to visit Russia since the regime's former leader Kim Jong-il in 2011.
Noting that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the two's diplomatic relations, he emphasized:
"We believe that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, the situation around Russia, and the general international political situation, demand that the two countries strengthen their friendly relations even more, build up strategic communication and coordinate their actions."
After the meeting, Lavrov told reporters he welcomed the (quote)"normalizing" situation on the Korean peninsula and Pyongyang's efforts for contact with Seoul and Washington.
He said he accepted Ri's invitation to visit Pyongyang at a later date.
Lavrov also hoped the current diplomatic push could lead to the resumption of the long-stalled Six Party Talks.
"We agree that the practical step to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is to proceed with the roadmap that Russia and China proposed last year. This plan helps to create conditions for peace talks."
That roadmap stipulates if North Korea halts its nuclear and missile tests **and South Korea and the U.S. halt their joint military drills, then this could lead to direct talks followed by a multilateral treaty for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and security in Northeast Asia.
North Korea has now completed its foreign ministerial meetings with both of its major traditional allies -- China and Russia.
Pyongyang's top diplomat is to stay in Russia one more day before leaving for Dushanbe to meet Tajikistan's leadership on Thursday.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.