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Russia's top diplomat says his nation would back NKorea talks in Geneva

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, is welcomed by Switzerland's Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, left, for a working visit a Neuchatel, Switzerland, Friday, April 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone/Sandro Campardo)The Associated Press

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he would welcome a fresh round of talks on Swiss soil over North Korea's nuclear program.

Flanked by his Swiss counterpart, Lavrov said Friday he would support renewed talks in Geneva if Pyongpang agreed to hold discussions with Russia, Japan, South Korea, the United States and China.

North Korea agreed in principle in 2005 to scrap its nuclear program including a presumed small stockpile of weapons in return for aid and diplomatic incentives from other members of the six-party talks.

But Pyongyang walked out of talks in 2009 and later conducted more nuclear tests.

Russia's top diplomat spoke after discussing North Korea, Syria and other issues with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, whose nation also offered to mediate the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.