Washington: United States Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit Russia this week to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“Biegun will travel to Moscow from April 17-18 to meet with Russian officials to discuss efforts to advance the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea,” the US State Department said in a statement.
Biegun’s visit to Russia comes ahead of the first-ever summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin that is scheduled to take place around next Wednesday in Vladivostok, Yonhap news agency reported.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that it has long been preparing for the upcoming summit between Putin and Kim, triggering speculations that the North Korean leader intends to secure Moscow’s backing in his bid for sanctions relief amid lack of progress in nuclear talks with Washington.
On Monday, South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Titov in Moscow and discussed on the need for closer cooperation in Seoul’s push for the “complete denuclearisation”.
Kim Chang-son, the North Korean leader’s de facto chief of staff, reportedly visited Moscow and Vladivostok in late March for the North Korean leader’s possible trip there. Russia’s Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev travelled to Pyongyang earlier this month.
Quoting sources in Vladivostok, Yonhap reported that an Air Koryo plane from North Korea is due to arrive at Vladivostok at 11 a.m. on Tuesday next week. The flight appears to have been scheduled for some special occasion apart from its regular flights only on Mondays and Fridays.
Seoul has been striving to create the momentum for the resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang that have been stalled since the collapse of the February summit between US President Donald Trump and North’s Kim.
The February Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi ended without a deal due to the failure of reaching a consensus over Pyongyang’s denuclearisation process and Washington’s sanctions relief.
During his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week in Washington, Trump said he is open to a third summit with Kim while noting that his relationship with the North Korean leader remains ‘good’.
In response, Kim also voiced his willingness for another summit with Trump, but with conditions.
“If the US proposes holding a third North Korea-US summit with a right attitude and a right method, we have a wiliness to do it one more time,” Kim was quoted by Yonhap, as saying.
It is widely speculated that Moon is expected to participate in the proposed third US-North Korea summit, along with Trump and Kim, in order to keep denuclearisation talks on track and to chalk out a peace deal to end the over six-decades-long Korean War.