North Korea wants to denuclearize but needs security guarantees, Putin says after Kim talks

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un on April 25, 2019 in Vladivostok, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to denuclearize but needs "security guarantees" to do so.

Speaking after a high-profile summit with Kim, Putin said Russia favored denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and Kim agreed, but said bilateral security guarantees were not enough.

Putin said he didn't know if it was time to resume six-way talks with North Korea to end a standoff over its nuclear weapons program. The "six-party talks" had taken place between North and South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Russia and China in the early 2000s, but collapsed in 2009 when North Korea pulled out, saying it would resume its nuclear enrichment program in order to boost its nuclear deterrent.

Putin said Thursday that a resumption of such talks "will help provide international security guarantees," Reuters reported.

Earlier Thursday, Putin had said he had a "substantial discussion" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about the Korean Peninsula Thursday, but gave little detail.

He said he and Kim exchanged views on how to improve the situation in the region, Reuters reported. Kim, meanwhile, reportedly said both leaders discussed how to "strategically improve regional stability."

"We just had a thorough face-to-face conversation," Putin said, according to Russian news agency Tass.

"We talked about the history of our insterstate relations, the current situation and the prospects for the development of our bilateral ties," he noted. "We discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and shared our positions on the measures to be taken for the situation to have good prospects for improvement."

Kim met Putin on an island off the Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Thursday. It is the first time the leaders have met face to face.

The meeting comes two months after denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang collapsed in Hanoi. For Russia, the meeting was seen as a way to show the world that Russia can be a global power broker. For North Korea, the meeting has helped to show the U.S. that it has "options."

In a sign that direct communication with the U.S. could be strained, Putin said Kim had asked Russia to inform the U.S. of its position.

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