Russia’s Lavrov due in North Korea ahead of Trump-Kim summit

Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov reacts after a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on May 18, 2018. (File photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is planning to visit North Korea, in a development announced more than two weeks before a summit is supposed to be held between the leaders of the United States and North Korea.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that a date for Foreign Minister Lavrov’s trip to North Korea would still have to be set.

But Russia’s business media outlet RBC said on the same day that Lavrov would visit North Korea on May 31.

Zakharova provided no details.

Lavrov met with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, in Moscow in April during a flurry of diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Following their meeting, the top Russian diplomat said he had accepted Ri’s invitation to Pyongyang.

Moscow has expressed hope to preserve diplomatic contacts with North Korea.

“We will hope [for a positive outcome.] You know that [Russia] plans to have contacts between Russian and North Korean representatives, and they are expected at a diplomatic level,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with TV channel NTV on Thursday.

“We will hope for the better: that we will be able to keep this impulse [in the settlement,]” Peskov added.

Still, it was not precisely clear what Lavrov would be discussing with officials in North Korea.

Peskov said, “Moscow has a consistent, well known position” on the issue of the Korean settlement, calling on “countries to avoid any steps that could lead to further escalation of tensions on the peninsula.”

Lavrov’s visit to North Korea would come before a summit that is supposed to be held between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. A series of US demands and threats — which have offended North Korea — have cast doubt on whether the two sides will go ahead and meet, however.

The US has demanded that North Korea give up its nuclear program at one stage. Pyongyang has rejected that “one-sided” approach to potential negotiations.

This article provided by NewsEdge.