G7 leaders condemn N.K.-Russia military cooperation in ‘strongest possible terms’


By Song Sang-ho

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Yonhap) — The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries condemned growing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia in the “strongest possible terms” on Friday amid reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to visit Pyongyang in the coming weeks.

The leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan issued a joint statement as they held a G7 summit in southern Italy.

A South Korean presidential official said Thursday (Korea time) that Putin is expected to travel to Pyongyang “in a few days,” amid concerns that burgeoning defense ties between the North and Russia could affect security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the increasing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, including North Korea’s export and Russia’s procurement of North Korean ballistic missiles in direct violation of relevant UNSCRs, as well as Russia’s use of these missiles against Ukraine,” they said in the statement.

UNSCR refers to a U.N. Security Council resolution.

“We are also deeply concerned about the potential for any transfer of nuclear or ballistic missiles-related technology to North Korea, in violation of the relevant UNSCRs. We urge Russia and North Korea to immediately cease all such activities and abide by relevant UNSCRs,” they added.

Putin’s upcoming trip to the North has raised speculation that Pyongyang and Moscow might seek to reach another arrangement aimed at bolstering their miliary ties.

Washington has revealed that Pyongyang has shipped over 10,000 containers of munitions or munition-related materials to Russia since September, in addition to its missile shipments.

In return, the North has been seeking assistance from Moscow, including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles and ballistic missile production equipment, according to U.S. officials.

The G7 leaders also reiterated their call for the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” dismantlement of all of the North’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, while urging the North to accept repeated offers of dialogue.

In addition, they called on the North to refrain from conducting nuclear tests, and sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions, whether for military or for peaceful purposes.

This Sept. 14, 2023, image, taken from Korean Central Television footage, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

This Sept. 14, 2023, image, taken from Korean Central Television footage, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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