Lavrov invites Kim to Russia after talks

Agencies
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang and invited him to visit, moving to raise Moscow's profile in international efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Lavrov visited the secretive state for the first time since 2009, as North Korean and US officials met for a second day to prepare the ground for an historic summit on June 12 between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.

Russia has appeared to be on the fringes of a flurry of diplomacy as Pyongyang and Washington edge towards talks aimed at ending years of tension over North Korea's nuclear program.

Lavrov on Thursday invited Kim him to visit Moscow.

"Come to Russia. We would be very happy to see you," Lavrov, seated across a table from Kim, said during a televised meeting.

He expressed Moscow's support for a declaration last month in which North and South Korea agreed to work for the denuclearisation of the peninsula.

He said Moscow hoped all sides would take a measured approach to possible forthcoming talks on a nuclear settlement.

"This will allow for the realisation not only of the denuclearisation of the whole Korean peninsula but also to provide sustainable peace and stability across north-east Asia," Lavrov was quoted as saying by his ministry.

He added that Moscow is interested in implementing joint economic projects with Pyongyang and Seoul, including railway construction.

After leaving the meeting room, Lavrov gifted Kim a small handcrafted box, decorated with images of characters from popular Russian stories.

In a YouTube video posted by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov is seen telling Kim he hoped he liked the present.

When Kim opened the lid of the box, Lavrov added with a smile that there was small key to safeguard his secrets.

Kim's meeting with Lavrov was likely a move to try to secure Russia - along with China - as another powerful player that can push the United States to ease sanctions and make other concessions, said Anthony Rinna, a specialist in Korea-Russia relations at Sino-NK, a website that analyses the region.

In the short term, Moscow "cannot afford to be remembered as the country that had no hat in the ring leading up to June 12," he said.

In his first visit to North Korea since 2009, Lavrov also met with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho.