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China says Kim-Putin talks are about their own ties

Sept. 13, 2023 - 20:10 By Choi Si-young
The Russian (left) and North Korean flags. (123rf)

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have to do with their own ties, adding that the Beijing-Pyongyang relationship remains friendly.

“Kim’s visit to Russia is what the two countries have agreed and ... (it is about) their relations,” spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press briefing, referring to the talks held hours earlier at the Vostochny Сosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region of Russia.

“China and North Korea are neighbors that continue to deepen ties,” she added.

Referring to Pyongyang’s missile launches that came hours head of the Wednesday summit, the spokesperson said ensuring stability on the Korean Peninsula depends on dialogue.

But the US chief nuclear envoy, along with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, condemned the firing of two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea of the North’s east coast. The three nations, which have been working on denuclearizing the Kim regime, said they would closely monitor the Kim-Putin talks -- a gathering many see is meant to elevate their military cooperation.

The White House has already issued a warning to the North and Russia, saying that the dialogue could lead to an arms deal that would involve Pyongyang supplying munitions to Moscow in exchange for technology to advance its nuclear weapons and satellites. Russia is seeking to restock artillery shells and rockets for its war in Ukraine.

North Korea, banned from such arms transfers by United Nations Security Council resolutions, would pay a price for pressing ahead with such an exchange, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has blamed the West for “breaching obligations” by sending Soviet-era and Russian weapons to Ukraine.

At a press briefing Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said any arms transfers would prompt a response. “We will monitor what happens and will not hesitate to take action to hold those accountable if necessary,” he said.

Russia cannot independently lift UN sanctions on the North, he added. The same day, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Defense Department spokesperson, also issued a similar warning.

Meanwhile, US Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves and his South Korean counterpart are expected to discuss stepping up export curbs meant to ban Russia from getting its hands on items it can use for its war in Ukraine, during Graves’ trip to Korea and Japan next week.

Taking away Moscow’s ability to evade current Western sanctions is still a top priority for Seoul and Washington, Graves said at a local forum Tuesday.

He underscored efforts for blocking countries that commit rights abuses from taking control of weapons and technology to deny freedom and threaten their neighbors.