World Bulletin / News Desk
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is still determined to denuclearize but hopes to do so in a "stage-by-stage" manner, according to Pyongyang's official media Friday.
With less than two weeks until a planned summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, the phased approach favored by Kim appears to run counter to the United States' more immediate goal of bringing about the North's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
"The DPRK's will for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula still remains unchanged and consistent and fixed," Kim was quoted as saying in a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by the state-run KCNA news agency.
“And he hoped that the DPRK-U.S. relations and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be solved on a stage-by-stage basis,” KCNA said.
North Korea refers to itself as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Lavrov's visit to Pyongyang a day earlier saw him become the first Russian foreign minister to travel to North Korea in nine years.
Kim is also set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin this year for the first time, according to KCNA, with the two sides marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Meanwhile, while the North has been additionally engaging in denuclearization dialogue with the U.S. this week, high-level inter-Korean talks were held Friday at the Panmunjom border village.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told reporters he would be following up on the bilateral vow to pursue peaceful cooperation and denuclearization -- an agreement that was achieved during the April 27 inter-Korean leaders' summit.
"We will have discussions with the North on ways to implement what the leaders of both countries agreed to in the Panmunjom Declaration and the summit held on May 26 in a speedy manner and without a hitch while creating a positive atmosphere for a summit between the North and the United States," Cho was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency before leaving for the border talks with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon.
This high-level dialogue had been scheduled for May 16 before North Korea called off the meeting, blaming the South's military drills with the U.S.
Ties were seemingly restored when Chairman Kim had a surprise follow-up meeting with the South's President Moon Jae-in last weekend.