Russia dismissed South Korea’s proposed five-party talks suggestion on Tuesday, on the same day that the South Korean foreign minister defended the idea.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed concern over “isolating” North Korea, in reaction to the South Korean president’s remarks from last Friday.
“We have heard a proposal from South Korea to gather in the ‘six-minus-one’ format but this is not a good idea,” Lavrov said at a press conference, citing Iran as a negative result of isolation.
Russian-born expert Andrei Lankov said the Six-Party Talks are the only way that Russia can take an active role in inter-Korean affairs.
“Russia cannot affect the Korean Peninsula without the Six-Party Talks. Russia is unlikely to suggest stronger sanctions, so as not to cause confusion in North Korea, which is a bigger problem (for Russia) than nuclear weapons,” Lankov told NK News.
Lavrov asserted that the Six-Party Talks are the sole solution for the nuclear issue, and expressed opposition to potential escalations from the U.S.’s military’s side.
“The United States should not bring elements of its nuclear arsenal (to the Korean Peninsula).”
Lankov said that Moscow regards North Korean nuclear capacity as part of a broader U.S.-Russia conflict.
“Russia doesn’t consider North Korea’s nuclear capacity a threat against Russia. Even though it doesn’t sympathize with the Pyongyang regime, its nuclear program is a way to lessen the influence of the U.S.,” Lankov said.
Seoul, however, is still sticking to the five-party talks.
“North Korea is not interested in the Six-Party Talks, and everybody is aware that it will not be easy to hold the Six-Party Talks in the near future. It is important not to leave North Korea with increased nuclear capacity,” Minister of the Foreign Affairs Yoon Byeong-se said on Tuesday afternoon during the interview with the Yonhap News Agency.
Yoon emphasized that the five-party talks could have a bridging role.
“Isn’t it more reasonable to view that the (five-party talks) could be helpful for changing North Korea’s attitude and work as a shortcut toward the Six-Party Talks?”
Even though the U.S. has supported Seoul’s proposal via U.S. embassy in Seoul, another expert said the possibility of the five-party talks is very low, who noted Russia’s negative reaction followed China’s dismissal of the idea last Friday, right after Park’s suggestion.
“It’s not just China, Russia is also opposed. The trilateral meeting between South Korea, Japan and the U.S. will be the only possible talks,” Hong Hyun-ik, chief of the security strategy research team at the Sejong Institute told NK News, saying the five-party talks suggestion already failed five or six years ago.
“All relevant parities should adhere to the principle and spirit of the September 19 Joint Statement (from 2005), and restart the Six-Party Talks at an early date,” spokesperson Hong Lei of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told journalists on January 22.
After this, the Blue House revised its position, saying during a Friday briefing that the five-party talks should be conducted within the framework of the Six-Party Talks.