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    People walk past a street monitor showing North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un in a news report about North Korea's nuclear test, in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2017

    Japanese Politician: Moscow, Tokyo to Take Increasing Role in North Korean Issue

    © REUTERS / Toru Hanai
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    The stance of Russia and Japan on the issue of North Korean denuclearization is going to gain importance and may even turn out to be decisive, Muneo Suzuki, head of the Hokkaido-based New Party Daichi and an unofficial adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Russian affairs, told Sputnik.

    "I think that Russia has deep historical ties with North Korea and has a great influence on this country. Just recently, there was a summit between the leaders of North and South Korea. Very soon, on June 12, there will be a summit between the heads of the United States and North Korea. But in the end, I think that there is a great influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the situation on the Korean peninsula," Suzuki said.

    The politician noted that Russia and Japan make different highlights when it comes to the North Korean issue. Abe insists that it is important to exercise pressure on North Korea, and stresses the necessity of sanctions. Putin, in turn, emphasizes that dialogue with Pyongyang is paramount, and says one needs to have realistic approaches to the issue of denuclearization, as it should be addressed step-by-step.

    The importance of Russian-Japanese coordination on North Korea is proven by the fact that the talks between Abe and Putin in May opened up a sequence of meetings, according to Suzuki. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited North Korea and a high-ranking politician from North Korea responsible for relations with Russia paid a visit.

    "Now there is much discussion of various summits — between South and North Koreas, between China and North Korea and between the United States and North Korea. Russia and Japan are only watching the situation meanwhile. But in the end, I think that the position of Russia and Japan on this issue will become more and more significant and decisive," Suzuki continued.

    He also said he expects a visit of Putin to Pyongyang after September this year, when the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) will take place in the Russian city of Vladivostok with a possible participation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

    "I think Kim will visit Russia first, and then Vladimir Putin will pay a visit to Pyongyang in response, it’s a normal practice," Suzuki said.

    Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin paid special attention to the situation around the Korean peninsula during nearly three-hour-long talks in late May in Moscow. The two leaders agreed they will keep in close contact in order to prevent escalation on the peninsula.

    White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed on Monday that the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would take place in Singapore on June 12. The summit has become a center-stage not only due to its topic and participants, but also because of the controversial statements coming from both sides just weeks ahead of the meeting, revealing that each leader is uncertain of whether it should or would take place.

    On May 24, Trump wrote Kim a letter informing him that the United States was canceling the summit over the hostile messages from the North Korean administration. However, last week, Trump revived the summit with Kim after meeting with his top aide, Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, at the White House.

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    Tags:
    influence, diplomacy, denuclearization, Trump-Kim Summit, Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, Shinzo Abe, Muneo Suzuki, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Japan, Russia
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