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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lavrov Cautious on N. Korea

ReutersSergei Lavrov welcomes Song Min-soon before their meeting on Tuesday.
Russia and South Korea on Tuesday expressed cautious optimism over North Korea's pledge to start dismantling its nuclear weapons program, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said more work must be done and that relations between Pyongyang and Washington were particularly important.

South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon was in Moscow for talks amid efforts to ensure the success of a Feb. 13 agreement in which North Korea said it would shut down its sole operating nuclear reactor within 60 days and eventually dismantle its weapons program in exchange for energy aid and other incentives.

"Painstaking work lies ahead on realizing the agreements of the February round," Lavrov said, referring to the six-nation talks involving the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, China and the United States that produced the deal with Pyongyang.

"The agreements are undoubtedly important, but they do not encompass the aspects of all the problems, and a lot must still be done," Lavrov said after talks with Song, adding that the level of trust among interested parties was not yet sufficient.

"A key issue is relations between the main so-called antagonists," he said, referring to the United States and North Korea, adding that he and Song praised the "flexibility and readiness for compromise" on the part of the United States and North Korea.

"We hope such an approach will remain," Lavrov said. Russia has repeatedly stressed that compromises by Washington and Pyongyang were needed to resolve the international standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.

Song said he and Lavrov, "concluded that the agreements of Feb. 13 are going according to plan."

Asked whether there could be a summit between the two Koreas, he indicated that would be premature.

"At this point, I doubt that such an atmosphere has been created," Song said.