Russia opposes 'endless' sanctions against North Korea
MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia argued on Friday against the "endless" continuation of sanctions against North Korea, saying they should be revoked once they have had their effect.
The statement comes after talks between Russian officials and a UN-mandated independent expert group in the Foreign Ministry in Moscow earlier on Friday.
"The UN Security Council's decisions are aimed primarily at easing concern over North Korea's nuclear program, and not at the economic isolation of the country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.
The expert group on sanctions, headed by Eric Marzolf, met earlier on Friday with Russian ambassador-at-large Grigory Logvinov, who represents Moscow at the six-nation talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear program.
"We exchanged opinions [on the issue] and specified Russia's position, which is to restart the six-party talks and the denuclearization process," Logvinov said, adding that Russia was against taking a broad interpretation of the sanctions.
Earlier in the day, Pyongyang said it would be conducting artillery drills near its sea borders with U.S. ally South Korea.
The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan came to a halt last April when North Korea walked out of negotiations in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests. The North recently hinted that it was willing to return to the talks, but insisted it first negotiate directly with the United States to repair "hostile relations."
The country is banned from conducting nuclear or ballistic tests under UN Resolution 1718, adopted after North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.
However, Pyongyang carried out a second nuclear test on May 25 last year, followed by a series of short-range missile launches, and has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies.
The move led to the UN imposing new sanctions on North Korea banning the import and export of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms.
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