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Lavrov invites North Korea leader to Russia as diplomacy intensifies

Lavrov invites North Korea leader to Russia as diplomacy intensifies
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By Alasdair Sandford with Reuters
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‘Come to Moscow’, Russia’s foreign minister tells Kim Jong Un, as both Russia and the US step up diplomatic moves ahead of a planned summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in June.

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Amid a sudden frenzy of international diplomatic activity surrounding North Korea, Russia has invited leader Kim Jong Un to visit the country.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued the invitation during a visit to Pyongyang on Thursday, ahead of a possible historic summit between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump in June.

Lavrov passed on the good wishes of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Kim in front of the TV cameras. “Come to Russia. We would be very happy to see you,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Russia has appeared to be on the sidelines of recent developments, with much attention focused on the planned US-North Korean summit, especially after the doubt cast as to whether or not it will happen in the wake of recent comments by Trump.

Sergei Lavrov, who also met his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho, said Moscow hoped all sides would take a delicate approach to possible forthcoming talks on a nuclear settlement.

Russian agencies said it was Lavrov’s first visit to North Korea since 2009.

In the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol enter a second day of meetings in New York on Thursday. They are trying to overcome differences over nuclear weapons to pave the way for a summit.

Washington wants Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme amid reports that it is close to having the capacity to launch a nuclear missile that could reach the US west coast. North Korea argues it needs nuclear weapons for its security.

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