ADDIS ABABA, March 9, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday hailed a proposed meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “a step in the right direction”.
“We do hope that this meeting is going to take place,” Lavrov said after meeting with African Union chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat at the body’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital. “Certainly, it is required to normalise the situation around the Korean peninsula.”
South Korea on Thursday said the two leaders would hold an unprecedented summit by the end of May, raising hopes they can broker an agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme that has fuelled tensions on the peninsula.
The announcement was confirmed by the White House.
News of the summit is the latest move in a fast-developing diplomatic detente, with North and South Korea exchanging envoys after the two neighbours marched together under a unified flag at the Winter Olympics.
It follows a period of extreme tension between Washington and Pyongyang which saw the two leaders exchanging bitter, personal insults, with Trump mocking Kim as a “little rocket man” and Kim describing him as “mentally deranged” and a “dotard.”
The United States and North Korea were foes throughout the Cold War and fought on the opposite side of a bloody war in the 1950s. In the last two decades, they have engaged in perhaps the world’s most dangerous nuclear standoff.
Lavrov was in Ethiopia as part of a five-day African tour which began on Monday with a visit to Angola after which he continued on to Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.