• Much in return for nothing: Putin slams US over North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the United States for not taking a single step in response to North Korea’s several moves toward denuclearization, saying Washington instead continues to make “endless demands” from Pyongyang.

Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Far Eastern port city of Vladivosto on Wednesday, President Putin said North Korea, in return for taking a lot of steps toward denuclearization, “expects reciprocal steps and not endless demands for full disarmament.”

“Clearly, it is waiting for some sort of signal in response,” the Russian president said.

He said it was important that North Korea receive security guarantees, referring to the guarantees promised by US President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when the two agreed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at a summit in Singapore back in June.

Pyongyang suspended its nuclear and missile tests even before that summit, has dismantled a nuclear site, and has returned the remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War to America. This is while the international sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs continue to remain in place.

The US, which has been the main sponsor of the international sanctions, says the bans will remain in place against Pyongyang until its complete denuclearization. It has also made no reciprocal move toward North Korea.

Partially because of that failure by the US, follow-on diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang has stalled.

Japan’s PM wants to meet Kim

The event in Russia was also attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said he would like to meet Kim.

“I too must break the shell of mutual distrust, take a step forward, and ultimately meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un,” he said. “At present, nothing has been decided regarding a Japan-North Korea summit meeting, but if we are going to have one, then I am resolved, it must be a meeting that contributes to the resolution of the abductions issue,” referring to a point of contention between Tokyo and Pyongyang that remains unresolved.

Abe had had early reservations about talks with North Korea and was always pushing for more pressure on Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and missile programs first.

The North had earlier flown at least one projectile over Japanese airspace in one missile test.

Putin offers peace treaty with Japan

Separately during the forum, Putin made a surprise offer to Abe of signing a peace treaty that would formally end World War Two hostilities between their countries without preconditions.

“An idea has just come into my head,” Putin said, turning to Abe on the stage. “Let’s conclude a peace treaty not now, but before the end of the year without any preconditions.”

The Japanese premier did not immediately respond to the offer.

SS

Sep 12, 2018 13:18 UTC
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