North Korea

Putin warns North Korea crisis getting worse as issue dominates talks with Japan PM Shinzo Abe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 2:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 2:46am

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear programme is deepening after the issue dominated talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Moscow.

He and Abe believe the situation on the Korean peninsula has “seriously deteriorated,” Putin said Thursday after the Kremlin meeting. “We call on all states involved in the region’s affairs to refrain from military rhetoric and seek peaceful, constructive dialogue.”

Abe said he and Putin spent a long time discussing North Korea during the three hours of talks that also focused on resolving a seven-decade long dispute over four islands seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The issue has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace accord.

The 17th meeting between the two leaders took place after Russia warned on Wednesday that the Korean peninsula is “on the brink of war.” Japan has sent warships to join drills with the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, which is leading a battle group ordered to the region by President Donald Trump. Putin and Abe are also trying to settle the dispute over the sovereignty of the islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the South Kurils in Russia. They agreed to create plans for economic cooperation on the islands during talks at a Japanese hot-spring resort near Abe’s ancestral home in December.

Can Trump do anything to stop a war with North Korea?

While Putin and Abe didn’t discuss possible new sanctions against North Korea, the issue may be taken up during talks between the Russian and Japanese foreign ministries, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters after the meeting.

Putin said six-party talks on North Korea involving Russia, Japan, China, the US and South Korea should be revived. Japan and Russia will continue to cooperate closely to urge North Korea to abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions and to abstain from “provocative actions,” Abe said.

Putin said he and Abe agreed to develop a list of “top priority” projects for cooperation on the Kurils, while Russia will provide a direct air connection to enable former Japanese residents to visit the graves of family members on the islands. Japanese officials and business people will travel to the islands in the summer, Abe said.

Resolving the territorial dispute will pave the way for Russia and Japan to sign a peace treaty, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “We expect that sooner or later there’ll be the political will to sign this important document,” he said.