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  Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Moscow and Seoul are ready to increase their efforts to restart
Moscow and Seoul are ready to increase their efforts to restart six-nation talks on the Korean Peninsula's nuclear problem, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traveled to Seoul on Friday, following a visit to North Korea, where officials reaffirmed their decision to abandon the six-party talks on nuclear disarmament.

"During a meeting in Seoul, the foreign ministers exchanged opinions on the situation on the region after a rocket launch conducted by North Korea, and pledged to make additional efforts to restart the six-nation talks," the ministry said in a statement.

The six-nation talks, involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Under deals reached in 2007, the North began disabling a nuclear reactor and other facilities at Yongbyon under U.S. supervision in exchange for economic aid and political incentives.

However, in December, the latest round of six-nation talks resulted in deadlock over a U.S. demand that nuclear inspectors be allowed to take samples out of the country from North Korean facilities for further analysis.

North Korea completely withdrew from the talks after the UN Security Council condemned the launch of a rocket on April 5, which Pyongyang said was carrying a communications satellite, although the Western analysts believe it was a test-launch of a ballistic missile.

The North has also expelled IAEA and U.S. nuclear inspectors who monitored the disablement of nuclear facilities in the country.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency quoted on Saturday the reclusive communist regime's Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that Pyongyang had restarted a plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon, which had been idled under earlier international agreements.

According to Russian analysts, it will take up to a year before the North would be able to obtain plutonium from about 8,000 spent fuel rods at the Yongbyon reactor.


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