Russia, China and North Korea have agreed on the need for five-way negotiations including the US and South Korea to resolve tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
A ministry statement said deputy foreign ministers of the three countries expressed support for such talks to normalize relations among concerned nations during a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
The development comes amid reports that South Korea is considering removing its unilateral sanctions against the North and improving bilateral ties between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told legislators in Seoul Wednesday that South Korea is weighing options on whether to lift sanctions it imposed on Pyongyang in 2010 following a deadly attack on a warship that killed 45 South Korean sailors.
At the time, Seoul effectively closed down all cross-border economic cooperation except for a joint factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.
The Kaesong factory was also shuttered by South Korea in February 2016 as a retaliatory measure against Pyongyang’s nuclear test as well as its launch of a long-range missile.
However, the likely lifting of the unilateral sanctions would be mostly a symbolic gesture since it is impossible for Seoul to resume joint economic projects with Pyongyang under the US-led sanctions.
South Korea’s top diplomat called on Washington last week to declare an end to the Korean War — a key demand of Pyongyang — in exchange for a verified closure of a major North Korean nuclear facility as the next step in the stalled negotiations.