MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday that the tense standoff between North Korea and the United States was on the verge of large-scale conflict and said it was a mistake to try to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear missile program.
Putin, who is due to attend a summit of the BRICS nations in China next week, wrote in an article published on the Kremlin’s web site ahead of his trip that he favored negotiations with North Korea instead.
“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks),” Putin wrote.
“Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere.”
The situation on the Korean Peninsula had deteriorated so much that it was now “balanced on the verge of a large-scale conflict,” said the Russian leader.
North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and has recently threatened to land missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
On Monday, Pyongyang, which sees joint war games between the United States and South Korea as preparations for invasion, raised the stakes in its stand-off with the United States and its allies by firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan.
“In Russia’s opinion the calculation that it is possible to halt North Korea’s nuclear missile programs exclusively by putting pressure on Pyongyang is erroneous and futile,” Putin wrote.
A road map formulated by Moscow and Beijing, which would involve North Korea stopping work on its missile program in exchange for the United States and South Korea halting large-scale war games, was a way to gradually reduce tensions, wrote Putin.
(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)