National / Politics

Kono, Lavrov agree to confront Pyongyang threat, including via UNSC

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Taro Kono said he and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov affirmed Monday in New York that Japan and Russia will work together, including at the U.N. Security Council, in addressing the threat from North Korea.

“The goal for both of us is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Kono told reporters after his roughly 30-minute meeting with Lavrov on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

“Japan and Russia are of the same recognition that (this includes) the enforcement of (U.N. Security Council) resolutions,” Kono said.

The latest sanctions resolution, adopted in response to the North’s Sept. 3 nuclear test, is the first to place a cap on North Korea’s supply of oil and petroleum products. It also bans purchases of the country’s textiles and calls on U.N. members to stop admitting North Korean laborers.

Kono said he appealed to Lavrov for Russia to use its influence on North Korea. The North has continued to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, firing a ballistic missile across Japan into the Pacific Ocean last week.

In the ministers’ second face-to-face meeting since Kono took up his post last month, they also exchanged views on the future of joint economic activities on a chain of Russia-held, Japan-claimed islands at the center of a decades-long territorial row that has kept the countries from concluding a bilateral peace treaty.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in Vladivostok early this month to start the joint activities soon in five fields, including aqua cultivation.

Kono said he and Lavrov affirmed Monday that a round of studies to be conducted on the islands early next month in preparation for the joint activities should be of a “fulfilling” nature.

The ministers agreed that meetings of senior officials should be held in the near future so the results can be presented at talks between Abe and Putin in November on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in Vietnam.

They agreed to meet again at the APEC gathering and on a visit to Russia by Kono planned for November or December.

According to Japanese officials, Kono and Lavrov both said they want to hold further discussions on Russia’s designation last month of the islands as a special economic zone.

Kono reiterated Japan’s stance that the joint economic activities must not compromise the Japanese legal position on their sovereignty, the officials said.