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Iran Press TV

North Korea: Ball now in US court on denuclearization

Iran Press TV

Mon Sep 10, 2018 03:01PM

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says he will not take any unilateral steps towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and is instead awaiting a US response to the measures Pyongyang has already taken, a senior Russian official who met him this weekend says.

Valentina Matvienko, speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, who met with Kim this weekend in Pyongyang, told RIA Novosti news agency on Monday that the North Korean leader made it clear during their bilateral meeting that he did not plan any further steps in the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue without a "reciprocal" action from Washington.

"They are waiting for reciprocal, step-by-step and synchronized steps as they expected, and easing of sanctions, which is not happening yet, so they continue to negotiate, contact, and hope that there will also be some reaction from the other side," Matvienko said.

"He is ready for mutually respectful negotiations, for a mutually respectful movement towards each other, and he does not plan any unilateral steps without a counter reaction," the senior Russian official said.

Matvienko also said that Kim had been polite and diplomatic in his remarks about US President Donald Trump and quoted him as saying he hoped for Russia's backing in easing US sanctions on North Korea.

"As for the United States, he was very diplomatic, correctly stated that the Singapore summit was a success, but now they are waiting for counter steps, because it cannot be that only North Korea is taking steps to denuclearize," she noted, referring to the Kim-Trump summit in June.

"He very much expects Russia to make efforts to ease sanctions on [North] Korea given the steps they have been taking in accordance with the obligations they took at the Singapore talks," Matvienko said.

The Russian senate speaker praised Pyongyang's decision to suspend missile tests and to destroy a nuclear test site as "two serious steps" aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Trump and Kim made a broad agreement on denuclearization at the Singapore summit on June 12, but sanctions meant to punish Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs still remain in place.

Those talks are now stalled due to disagreements between the two sides, with Pyongyang accusing the US of obstructing inter-Korean talks as well.

Change of rhetoric spotted

Matvienko, who met Kim in Pyongyang on Saturday to deliver a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, said she had noticed changes in the rhetoric of the North Korean leader.

"The rhetoric has changed, the bellicose rhetoric is gone," she said, adding that Pyongyang was determined to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue peacefully.
"Even at the parade in Pyongyang, you saw only defensive equipment, no long-range and medium-range missiles. It sends signals to the world that North Korea wants a peaceful settlement of the problem."

The military parade, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea, took place on September 9 and only showcased short-range battlefield rockets instead of the more controversial missiles that once were said to be capable of targeting the US mainland.

Kim might visit Russia before year's end

Matvienko also confirmed that the North Korean leader was planning to make an official visit to Russia in the near future.

"[Kim] intends to take up the Russian president's invitation in the near future, without delay … he is ready to pay a visit to Russia depending on the schedule of Vladimir Putin … I hope that in the near future, before year's end, such a visit will take place," she said to RIA.

Back in June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov handed over an official invitation to Kim to visit Russia.

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