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(4th LD) Russian FM calls for efforts to keep peace on peninsula after N.K. missile launches

All News 20:36 March 25, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout based on unofficial translation from foreign ministry)
By Song Sang-ho and Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for the suspension of "all types of military activities" to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, hours after North Korea fired off what appeared to be ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

Lavrov made the remark in a press statement after his talks with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong in Seoul

"Especially, I emphasized that it is important for all concerned countries to make various endeavors, including the suspension of an arms race and all types of military activities, to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia, including the Korean Peninsula," he said according to the foreign ministry's unofficial translation of his statement.

Lavrov also pointed out that for the complete resolution of regional issues, concerned parties should resume dialogue processes as soon as possible -- an apparent reference to stalled diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Earlier in the day, the North fired two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, as Washington is set to complete its policy review on the recalcitrant regime in the coming weeks.

The launches came four days after Pyongyang fired two cruise missiles into the West Sea.

Touching on the launches, Chung said he expressed "deep concern."

"South Korea and Russia agreed to continue close communication and cooperation for progress on the Korean Peninsula peace process," Chung said.

"I also asked Russia to continue to play a constructive role going forward," he added.

Also in his press statement, Lavrov noted that the two countries expressed "shared interest" in an "open and inclusive" forum for regional cooperation.

His remarks came as Beijing and Moscow have been increasingly wary of the United States' push to cement the Quad forum involving its key allies and partners -- Australia, Japan and India -- to uphold what it calls a free, open Indo Pacific.

Noting that Chung has reaffirmed Seoul's invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit here, Lavrov said that the two sides decided to discuss the matter when the COVID-19 situation stabilizes.

At the start of their talks, Chung called Russia a partner for regional peace, while touting progress in bilateral exchanges since the establishment of relations between the two countries in 1990.

"The relations between South Korea and Russia -- partners on a journey for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Eurasia -- have steadily been developing in a multi-faceted way," Chung said at the start of the talks.

"Conditions for exchanges and cooperation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic are not easy. But particularly at such a juncture, we should closely cooperate to strengthen communication and activate people-to-people exchanges," he added.

The two countries' first foreign ministerial meeting in Seoul since 2009 came after tensions flared anew due to North Korea's missile launches in the morning and an acrimonious Sino-U.S. rivalry that has brought China and Russia closer together.

Lavrov's visit to Seoul following his trip to Beijing has developed geopolitical overtones, as the United States pushed to "reinvigorate and modernize" its regional democratic alliances, with China and Russia moving to close ranks with each other.

Lavrov is set to leave here later in the day.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (R) and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, pose for a photo before their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on March 25, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (R) and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, pose for a photo before their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on March 25, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)



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