Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call today that resuming direct talks with North Korea was the only way to resolve tensions over its nuclear programme, the Kremlin said. In a statement, the Kremlin said the two leaders “were united in the opinion that it was unacceptable to allow an escalation in tension.” The crisis needs to be resolved “exclusively through political and diplomatic means, by restarting direct negotiations,” they reportedly said.
Both Putin and Macron “decisively condemned the provocative” firing by North Korea of a ballistic missile yesterday over Japan and into the Pacific, the statement said. The latest launch came days after the UN slapped new sanctions on Pyongyang following its sixth nuclear test earlier this month. In the statement, the Kremlin said that during Putin’s talk with Macron “it was underlined that an adequate response to Pyongyang’s irresponsible steps was taken” by the UN.
Russia backed the new sanctions against North Korea on Monday, banning it from trading in textiles and restricting oil imports. But Moscow refused to support tougher measures like an oil embargo and Washington had to soften its stance in order to secure the backing of Russia and China, the North’s strongest backers.
The United States called on China and Russia to take “direct actions” to rein in North Korea after it fired the missile. “China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.