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Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
Deputy foreign ministers of China, North Korea, and Russia on Wednesday issued a joint communiqué reiterating the strong ties between the three nations and calling for a loosening of sanctions against the DPRK.
In a statement released Wednesday by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a round of tripartite meetings in Moscow, the three ministers also expressed their support for ongoing talks between the DPRK and both the U.S. and South Korea.
“Noting the important steps taken by the DPRK in the direction of denuclearization, the parties considered it necessary to start a timely review by the UN Security Council of the sanctions measures against the DPRK,” the Joint Information Communiqué on Tripartite Consultations said.
Attending the meeting were Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Morgulov, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Representative of Korean Peninsular Affairs Kong Xuanyou, and North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui.
The meeting came amid something of a diplomatic tour for Choe, which has in the past week included bilateral meetings with Kong in Beijing on Friday and with Morgulov in Moscow on Monday.
Wednesday’s statement also stressed that all parties must “establish mutual trust” through a process which is “phased and synchronous in nature and accompanied by reciprocal steps by the states involved.”
It also reiterated their opposition to “unilateral sanctions” – seen most recently in U.S. Treasury Department designations targeting Turkish nationals and a Turkish firm.
The joint call for easing sanctions echoes similar statements from the three countries in recent months following frequent diplomatic consultations between the DPRK and its two closest allies this year.
A speech by DPRK foreign minister Ri Yong Ho at the United Nations in September framed sanctions as a barrier to bilateral progress and as an example of U.S. efforts to coerce the DPRK.
“The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe dream of the people who are ignorant about us, but the problem is that the continued sanctions are continuing our mistrust,” Ri said.
A session of the United Nations Security Council in September, too, revealed the growing divisions between members, with China and Russia calling for sanctions to be weakened and the U.S., Japan, and numerous European countries insisting that pressure should be maintained.
Washington has consistently stressed that sanctions will be remain in place until North Korea relinquishes its nuclear arsenal, with the State Department on Monday insisting that the U.S. and China were “unified” on the pressure campaign against the DPRK.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Russian MFA