ReutersVLADIVOSTOK/SEOUL (Reuters) — Resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis is impossible with sanctions and pressure alone, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after meeting his South Korean counterpart on Wednesday, again urging dialogue to achieve progress.
Putin met Moon Jae In on the sidelines of an economic summit in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid mounting international concerns that their shared neighbor plans more weapons tests, possibly a long-range missile launch ahead of a key weekend anniversary.
Putin denounced Pyongyang’s sixth and largest nuclear bomb test on Sunday, saying Russia did not recognize North Korea’s nuclear status.
“Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear program is a crude violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, undermines the non-proliferation regime and creates a threat to the security of northeastern Asia,” Putin said at a joint news conference.
“At the same time, it is clear that it is impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean Peninsula only by sanctions and pressure,” he said.
No headway could be made without political and diplomatic tools, Putin said.
South Korea’s Moon, who came to power earlier this year advocating a policy of pursuing engagement with Pyongyang, has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line on North Korea.
He and Putin “shared the understanding that resolving the North Korean issue is top priority,” Moon told reporters.
Moon has asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions on North Korea after the latest nuclear test. He said on Wednesday it was inevitable oil supplies to the North would be cut and asked Putin to cooperate.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will discuss North Korea with Moon and Putin in Vladivostok, said on Wednesday he wanted the North to understand it has “no bright future” if it continues on its current path.
China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and Seoul stop major military drills in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs, but neither side is willing to budge.
North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.
South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
Beijing objects to both the military drills and the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S. missile defense system that has a radar that can see deep into Chinese territory. The U.S. military said the four remaining Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries would be deployed on a golf course in the south of the country on Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated China’s opposition to the THAAD system at a briefing in Beijing, saying it could only “severely damage” regional security and raise “tensions and antagonism.”