World News

Russia calls on Koreas to stop "muscle flexing"

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia called on North and South Korea on Thursday to stop “muscle flexing” and backed China’s call for an emergency meeting of the six powers involved in efforts to resolve tensions on the peninsula.

Talks between western and Asian powers on the Koreas are stalled after the sides have failed to agree on the conditions for meeting, leading to calls for an emergency session and talks between the two countries which are technically at war.

“It is imperative to stop military activity ... and move from muscle flexing to dialogue between the North and South,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin told journalists.

Tensions have run high between the countries since the North attacked a South Korean island in November, killing four people.

Both countries, which have never signed a peace treaty ending the Korean War in the 1950s, have since stepped up chest-beating military drills, and North Korea, which has twice tested nuclear bombs, said it was ready for “sacred war.”

Lack of dialogue prompted a call from China to hold an emergency session of the six powers, including the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan.

“We believe the call for an emergency session of the six-party talks is correct,” said Borodavkin. “We will work towards this happening.”

The six-party talks were aimed at ending the North’s nuclear programme in return for aid and diplomatic recognition, but the North walked out of them two years ago, leaving the process hanging without assurance of how or when it could be restarted.

Some analysts say the reclusive North’s recent hostile acts are aimed at pushing countries back to the talks to win aid. Others say the aggression is motivated by issues related to the North’s leadership succession.

Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Peter Graff