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Russia, EU praise North Korean leader’s decision on halting nuclear tests

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A man watches television news showing file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at a railway station in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on April 21, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Russia and the European Union (EU) have hailed the landmark decision made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to suspend his country’s nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches as a sign of seriousness in pursuing peace with rival South Korea.

“We welcome the statement of Kim Jong-un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, enshrined in the resolution … of April 20, on the termination of nuclear and missile tests by the DPRK starting from April 21, 2018, as well as [on the termination of] the use of the nuclear test site in this country,” said a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on Saturday, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The ministry also said that Moscow regarded Kim’s decision as “an important step toward further removal of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and toward consolidation of positive trends in normalizing the situation in Northeast Asia.”

Kim on Saturday said his country’s quest for nuclear weapons was “complete” and it “no longer needs” to test its weapons capability, the state-run KCNA news agency quoted him as saying. He added that he would also shut down a nuclear test site in the northern parts of North Korea to pursue economic growth and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The significant development came ahead of diplomatic engagement with both South Korea and the US, and six days before a meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the volatile peninsula. The meeting is regarded as a precursor to an eagerly-awaited planned meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump, expected to be held at the end of May or beginning of June.

A positive step: EU

Meanwhile, the EU also praised North Korea’s decision to halt nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches as “a positive, long sought-after step.”

The European Union's Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said Kim’s move showed “full respect” to international obligations and all relevant resolutions issued by the UN Security Council in the past few years.

The EU “looks forward to the upcoming Summit meetings between the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in and the leader of the DPRK; and the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and the leader of the DPRK. We hope that these high-level initiatives can continue to build confidence and bring about additional, concrete and positive outcomes,” Mogherini said.

She also promised that the bloc would continue its efforts to support “a negotiated solution in all possible ways.”

In late March, Kim made a historic visit to China to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and discuss ongoing developments on the Korean Peninsula. It was Kim’s first foreign trip since rising to power in 2011.

China remains the North’s main ally and trade partner, though their relations briefly cooled when Beijing began enforcing sanctions by the UN Security Council aimed at containing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea says its weapons are defensive in nature and a necessary deterrent against potential hostility by Washington and its regional allies, including South Korea.

Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations. The US has imposed many rounds of sanctions on North Korea, has substantial military presence near the country, and numerously threatened to invade it.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula were running high in 2017. Trump’s threats last year prompted North Korea to conduct its most powerful nuclear test to date and launch intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.


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