'The two discussed concerns related to the DPRK?s destabilizing nuclear program and emphasized that neither the United States nor Russia accepts the DPRK as a nuclear power,' US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said. Photograph:( Reuters )
The United States and Russia have agreed to work together and continue diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear missile programme, the US State Department said on Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke over the phone Tuesday, a day after the US announced sanctions against North Korea.
“The two discussed concerns related to the DPRK’s destabilizing nuclear program and emphasized that neither the United States nor Russia accepts the DPRK as a nuclear power,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The move follows mixed signals from Washington on how President Donald Trump plans to fulfil his promise to "take care of" the North.
On Tuesday, Russia reiterated an offer to mediate to ease tensions between Washington and Pyongyang that have raised fears of a new conflict on the peninsula.
Lavrov told Tillerson “Washington’s aggressive rhetoric” and beefing up of its military presence in the region had heightened tension and was unacceptable.
Tillerson stressed that they do not intend to go to war with North Korea and will use every measure possible for defence but hopes that diplomacy will produce a resolution.
However, in October Trump told Tillerson that this was a waste of time which was followed by talks between the secretary of state with no pre-conditions by saying that no negotiations could be held until North Korea improves its behaviour.
North Korea has test-fired 15 missiles so far in 2017 and conducted its sixth underground nuclear test in September.
The United States has placed sanctions on two North Koreans who it says are part of the country's nuclear missile programme, while Russia has reiterated its offer to mediate between the two countries.
The UN had on Friday imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to its ICMB test conducted last month, which Pyongyang said put all of the US mainlands within range of its nuclear weapons.
North Korea has also argued that the nuclear weapon tests are a self-defensive deterrence, not in contradiction of international law. It also warned other countries that those who would support the sanctions would pay a 'heavy price'.