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President Putin and his US counterpart President Trump spoke by phone "in favor of establishing dialogue and creating contacts with the North Korean side" and agreed to exchange information about possible initiatives for resolving the North Korea issue," according to the Kremlin.
As a result of the phone call between the Russian and the US leader, Donald Trump told reporters that the US could rely on the Russian's support in terms of the North Korean issue and considers it to be of major importance. China is currently helping the US to address the North Korean crisis, not Russia, according to Trump.
The day before, Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his annual press conference, touched upon the North Korean nuclear problem. He reiterated that Moscow does not recognize the country's nuclear status, but "everything that is happening there is counterproductive."
On December 13, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Washington is ready to start direct talks with North Korea without preconditions. This statement was supposed to symbolize a change of approach for the US, which had demanded that Pyongyang halt its nuclear program if they want to negotiate. Diplomatic isolation and already-existing economic pressure, which comprise Donald Trump’s approach to North Korea, were believed to prompt the North Korean government into talking with the international community. However, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his skepticism about negotiating with North Korea and Washington and Pyongyang haven't sat down for formal negotiations since 2009.
Since the beginning of the year, North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests. On November 28, Pyongyang tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) yet, known as the Hwasong-15, capable of reaching any target within the mainland United States. In December, in response to the DPRK’s missile tests, South Korea and the United States launched large-scale military exercises. 12,000 servicemen and 230 aircraft were involved in maneuvers, including fifth-generation F-35 and F-22 fighters. The UN has imposed sanctions against the DPRK several times already, with Pyongyang showing no signs of curbing their nuclear weapons program.
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