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Russia's foreign minister is headed to North Korea

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit North Korea on Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sa...

Posted: May 30, 2018 12:51 PM
Updated: May 30, 2018 12:51 PM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit North Korea on Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, the latest move in Pyongyang's push for diplomatic rapprochement.

Lavrov is expected to discuss not only the situation in the Korean peninsula and the wider region, but also the relationship between the two countries, according to the ministry.

His visit comes as North Korea, the US and South Korea intensify efforts towards convening a historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, American officials crossed the demilitarized zone into North Korea to meet with officials there, South Korean media reported, purportedly to discuss the substance of any talks should they occur.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had extended an invitation to Lavrov to visit the country on a trip to Moscow on April 10.

The long-time Russian foreign minister has previously traveled to Pyongyang, including in 2009 during an earlier round of negotiations on North Korean disarmament.

There were no discussions during the April 10 meeting of either Russian President Vladimir Putin or North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting each other's capitals, Lavrov said at the time, but added that both leaders "regularly exchange statements."

Shuttle diplomacy ramps up

North Korean and US officials have been spotted in Singapore, ostensibly planning the logistics of the event which was scheduled for June 12 in the city-state until Trump called it off last week.

He has not said definitively that the summit was back on, but the shuttle diplomacy between the three nations to find common ground has been a positive signal to observers that it will go ahead.

As Lavrov arrives in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un's right-hand man Kim Yong Chul will be in New York meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump confirmed Kim's travel in a tweet on Tuesday, and said the trip was a "solid response" to his letter from last week to Kim Jong Un.

In his letter Trump had decried the "tremendous anger and open hostility" seen in statements out of North Korea, but also said he looked "very much forward to meeting" Kim Jong Un.

The forging of a relationship with the US has North Korean allies like China and Russia concerned that it would hinder their influence and standing with Pyongyang.

Putin had criticized Trump's decision to cancel the summit, telling reporters last week that "we in Russia view it with regret because we really counted on this very significant step toward the de-escalation of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and that this will be the beginning to the whole process of denuclearization."

He went on to say that Russia and its partners would work to try to bridge the gap between the US and North Korea, and said it would "be better to revert to the mechanisms which have worked quite well to create some kind of dialogue."

Russian influence in North Korea has waned

Even though the two nations established relations 70 years ago, the shadow once cast by Russia has lessened in North Korea as Moscow's global influence has waned and its own economy has been shaken by international sanctions.

"Russia has far less influence or leverage with North Korea than China does, and that's not because of the military stuff, it's purely because of money," said Bruce Bechtol, a professor of political science at Angelo State University who has authored several books on North Korea.

He said Russia is the only country other than China that presents a "semblance of being an ally" to the isolated regime.

"During the Cold War, Russia subsidized everything in North Korea. North Korea was not a poor country, it was simply a subsidized member of what we can now call the Soviet Union's satellite states," he told CNN.

That all ended in 1991, said Bechtol, when the Berlin Wall came down, communism in the Soviet Union and its member states collapsed, and Russia opened its economic doors to the West.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
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Henry5579101
Noble542683
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Shelby479495
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Ohio55811
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
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