SEOUL, South Korea – Russia's nuclear envoy said Sunday that North Korean officials expressed their commitment to denuclearization after the North's reported atomic test, and Moscow and Seoul pledged to try reviving stalled international arms talks.
"I was repeatedly told in Pyongyang that they are for the continuation of the process. They are for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said after meeting Seoul's top nuclear negotiator, Chun Yung-woo.
Alexeyev was in Pyongyang last week — the first known foreign official to travel there since North Korea's claimed Oct. 9 nuclear test explosion.
The Russian diplomat said he wasn't carrying any specific message from the North.
The North test-launched a series of missiles in July, and last week claimed it conducted its first-ever successful nuclear test.
In response, the U.N. Security Council on Saturday passed a unanimous resolution imposing sanctions on the communist country.
Alexeyev's visit was part of a series of diplomatic initiatives, planned for the coming week, aimed at defusing the crisis.
The North has refused since last year to attend nuclear talks that also include China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, demanding that Washington first halt a campaign aimed at cutting off the country from the international financial system.
Seoul and Moscow agreed to pursue the resumption of the deadlocked forum, known as the six-party talks, Alexeyev said.
"We both agreed we should work for a diplomatic solution, that the six-party process should be revived," he said. "We agreed that all sides are interested in a diplomatic way."
However, the South's Chun said negotiations likely couldn't restart until after the North completes its response to the U.N. sanctions. So far, the North has rejected the resolution and said it could take unspecified "physical" action in response to continued U.S. pressure.
"I'll be able to predict with confidence whether we will reopen diplomacy after we see North Korea's reaction," he said.