Russia willing to mediate US-North Korea talks: report

Russia willing to mediate US-North Korea talks: report
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Russia said Tuesday it is willing to mediate talks between the United States and North Korea, should the two countries accept its offer, Reuters reported.

“Russia’s readiness to clear the way for de-escalation is obvious,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly told reporters during a phone call.

The offer comes amid escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang with both countries intensifying their rhetoric this year.

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Russia has long urged for the two states to come to the negotiating table and diplomatically work to reduce tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile weapons development program, which Pyongyang continues to pursue despite harsh sanctions from the United Nations.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called for the two states to begin negotiations, underscoring Russia's readiness to serve as a facilitator of the meeting, according to the report.

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

“North Korea will seek negotiation with United States, while continuing to pursue its effort to be recognized as a de facto nuclear-possessing country,” according to a report released by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which reportedly did not provide any reasons to support its conclusion.

Seoul's 2018 prediction, however, comes after it has established a specialized military team that will be ready to deal with the north's nuclear threats.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the White House have sent mixed messages regarding the administration's stance toward North Korea after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile late last month.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE said he would not be willing to start diplomatic talks unless North Korea agrees to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. 

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to impose new, harsher sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.

- Updated: 7:46 a.m.