Kim, Putin hold first ever summit

By Sun Haoran and Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/25 23:08:40

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) welcomes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un prior to their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky Island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on Thursday. Photo: AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first ever summit on Thursday afternoon during which they discussed ways to peacefully settle Korean Peninsula issues in the aftermath of the fruitless US-North Korea summit in Hanoi. 

Although details of the Kim-Putin talks had not been released as of press time, Chinese analysts believe it will help North Korea gain more leverage in future talks with the US by winning support from an important member of the UN Security Council. 

The meeting between Kim and Putin lasted for about two hours.

Putin said he was "pleased" with the outcome of the summit meeting, saying he would discuss the results with China and the US, CNN reported. 

Asked if Kim would be willing to continue his contact with the US, Putin said the North Korean leader would be guided by his "national interests," but added that "we can't resolve anything without talks" when it came to the Korean Peninsula issues. 

Putin will attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation scheduled to open on Friday when according to CNN, he will discuss the summit with top Chinese leaders.

"Moreover, Kim Jong-un himself asked us to inform the American side about his position, about the issues that arose for him in connection with the processes that are taking place on and around the Korean Peninsula," said the Russian president, CNN reported. 

"I came to Russia to exchange opinions on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which is one of the major problems on the current international agenda, as well as discuss ways to peacefully settle this issue," Kim was quoted as saying by Russia's TASS news agency.

TASS said the two leaders described the meeting as "thorough" and "fruitful and constructive." 

According to information received, the meeting between Putin and Kim has had positive outcomes, which China believes will provide new impetus to solve issues on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a routine press conference on Thursday. 

"China is willing to cooperate with all related sides, including Russia, to continue promoting the denuclearization process of the Korean Peninsula and settlement of political issues on the peninsula," Geng said. 

Possible resumption?

The summit came two months after the failed second summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, which took place on February 27-28.

The current bottleneck in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue lies in the disagreement between North Korea and the US over the reduction of economic sanctions, Yang Mian, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China University of Communications, told the Global Times on Thursday.  

North Korea has pledged to gradually abandon its nuclear program and shift to economic development, but the US still refuses to make any concession on sanctions unless the country promises total denuclearization, Yang said. 

"North Korea is unwilling to completely abandon its nuclear program because it fears threats to its security," Yang said. 

Chinese analysts noted that the stalled Six-Party Talks were still the only efficient way of addressing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but all other efforts merit support.

The Six-Party Talks are really the only viable mechanism for a reasonable solution as it is a platform that includes all the stakeholders in the North Korean nuclear issue, said Dong Xiangrong, a research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Putin also called for another round of Six-Party Talks to discuss North Korea's nuclear program, reported USA Today on Thursday. 

However, Yang noted that if there is a third US-North Korea summit, it may not be so important to resume the Six-Party Talks right now.  

The Six-Party Talks were initiated in August 2003 in Beijing following North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in January the same year. The collective forum consists of representatives from China, the US, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan, in hopes of finding a political and diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

The mechanism stalled after North Korea declared in 2009 that it would no longer participate in the Six-Party Talks and that it would no longer be bound by any of the previous agreements reached in the discussions.

"The key for a more pragmatic Six-Party Talks mechanism is that all the members need to find an effective way to enhance the power to implement and supervise, and maybe consider different approaches, such as sub-bilateral or multilateral talks under the Six-Party frame," Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.


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