Russia Ready to Be Mediator between US, North Korea

Russia Ready to Be Mediator between US, North Korea

The new USA steps were the latest in a campaign aimed at forcing North Korea - which has defied years of multilateral and bilateral sanctions - to abandon a weapons program aimed at developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States.

The latest round of sanctions was prompted by the November 29 test of what North Korea said was an intercontinental ballistic missile that put the USA mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

Lavrov disagreed with USA threats of military intervention and further sanctions against North Korea, instead pushing for US diplomacy to seek a more peaceful approach to negotiations, the statement said.

The measures order North Koreans working overseas to return home within two years and ban almost 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to the country.

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North Korea's foreign ministry on Sunday slammed the latest round of measures as "an act of war".

"I don't think that anyone who is in his right mind would like to start a war on the Korean Peninsula". Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a renowned diplomat known for his no-frills attitude, told reporters that the Kremlin's "readiness to clear the way for de-escalation [in the Korean Peninsula] is obvious", and that Russian Federation should be looked upon as a serious arbiter in the region. Though US diplomats have said they are pursuing a diplomatic solution, President Donald Trump has said Pyongyang must commit to giving up its nuclear weapons before any talks can begin.

South Korea also offered an optimistic prediction on Tuesday, saying North Korea may be willing in the new year to engage in talks with the U.S., Reuters reported.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pressed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during telephone talks on Tuesday to move from the language of sanctions to the negotiating process as quickly as possible. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the USA was ready to open talks with Pyongyang "without preconditions".

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