Russian FM Lavrov to head to North Korea

Agencies
Russia says Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will travel to North Korea for talks on Thursday

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to North Korea on Thursday to meet his counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, Russian news agency TASS reports.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement Lavrov would hold talks to discuss bilateral issues as well as the overall situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Ri had invited Lavrov to visit North Korea during a rare trip to Moscow in April.

Lavrov's visit comes ahead of a planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month.

Lavrov said he hoped the meeting between Kim and Trump would not degenerate into a trading of accusations.

"We support the changes happening now in relations between the two Koreas, between Pyongyang and Washington," Lavrov was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

"We really hope these talks ... do not end up in ultimatums."

Moscow has long called for Washington and Pyongyang to hold talks aimed at de-escalating tensions around North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

The US wants North Korea to give up all its nuclear weapons in a verifiable way in return for sanctions and economic relief.

Pyongyang has a different view of denuclearisation and remains deeply worried that abandoning its deterrent would leave it vulnerable, especially while the US maintains a robust military presence in South Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously urged North Korea to comply with United Nations resolutions.