Russia rejects US call to cut ties with North Korea

Moscow: Russia rejected US call to cut ties with North Korea by saying Washington should engage and not isolate Pyongyang.

Speaking to reporters in Belarus on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US seems to be goading North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un into some extreme action and use it as a pretext to attack and destroy the country.

North Korea’s missile test on Wednesday was an adventure but the US is provoking it to launch missiles and conduct nuclear tests, he said.

“The Americans should start with explaining their intentions to us all. If they are really looking for an excuse to destroy North Korea, as the US envoy to the UN said at a Security Council meeting, let them spell it out clearly and let the US leadership confirm it. Then we will decide how to react,” Lavrov said.

Hours after the test, UN envoy Nikki Haley told the Security Council that North Korea is provoking the world with its nuclear programme and if a war breaks out, the country will be “utterly destroyed”. She called all nations to cut ties with North Korea.

Haley’s comments came when Russia was trying to cool off tensions between the US and North Korea.

The US had initially hinted that its war drills with South Korea and Japan may take place in spring next year. But they staged unscheduled exercises in October and November. Now they are planning a large-scale drill this month, Lavrov said.

Sanctions to stop North Korea’s nuclear programmes are not working. US should listen to other countries and engage North Korea, he said.

Russia’s presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said from Minsk that severing ties with North Korea will not solve problems.

“You know, to sever ties with [North] Korea would be the easiest thing to do. The question is what we will do to resolve the issue. We believe that we should pool our efforts to find an answer to this question,” he said.