Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov. RIA Novosti via AFP
Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov. RIA Novosti via AFP

Vice Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, Russia’s top negotiator on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, reportedly said in Seoul on Monday that a current hiatus in North Korea’s military provocations means that Pyongyang is implementing the so-called freeze-for-freeze deal that Russia has proposed.

Morgulov was referring to a proposal by China and Russia that the US and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests. The US and South Korea have not accepted the proposal.

The Russian diplomat who met on Monday with Lee Do-hoon, the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, also stressed that Russia is ready to cooperate with South Korea to peacefully resolve regional issues involving North Korea.

Morgulov, at a press conference, said he doubted the effectiveness of current international sanctions against North Korea.

“Through sanctions or pressure, (we) cannot achieve the effect of bringing North Korea to the negotiating table,” the Russian deputy minister was quoted by Yonhap as saying. “The stronger the sanctions and pressure on North Korea become, the greater the harm to normal North Koreans could get,” he added.

Morgulov told Yonhap that Russia is “in favor of the resumption of the six-party talks,” referring to the long-dormant multilateral forum to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. “We are ready to resume it any time at any place … without any condition from the Russian side,” he said.

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