Russian Foreign Minister dismisses U.S. claims of North Korea supplying munitions to Moscow as rumours


In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via their telegram channel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, foreground left, and North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, foreground right, attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the base of the bronze statues of their late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansu Hill Grand Monument in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via their telegram channel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, foreground left, and North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, foreground right, attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the base of the bronze statues of their late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansu Hill Grand Monument in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

Russia's top diplomat shrugged off U.S. claims that North Korea transferred munitions to Russia, saying Washington has failed to prove the allegation.

Russian state television broadcast Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comments on Friday. Mr. Lavrov made a two-day trip to Pyongyang this week for talks on ways to boost the two countries’ ties following a September summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House said last week that North Korea had delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and weapons to Russia. It released images that it said showed the containers were loaded onto a Russian-flagged ship before being moved via train to southwestern Russia.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. believes Mr. Kim is seeking sophisticated Russian weapons technologies in return for the munitions to boost North Korea’s military and nuclear program.

Mr. Lavrov scoffed at the U.S. claims, saying that “the Americans keep accusing everyone.”

“I don't comment on rumors,” he added.

Since last year, the U.S. has accused North Korea of providing ammunition, artillery shells and rockets to Russia for the fighting in Ukraine. North Korea has steadfastly denied it shipped arms to Russia. South Korean officials charged that weapons North Korean provided already were used in Ukraine.

When Mr. Kim visited Russia for six days last month, a trip that included meeting with Mr. Putin, Russian and North Korean officials said that boosting defence ties between the two countries was discussed but they didn’t disclose any specific steps.

On Thursday, Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kim exchanged views on joint efforts to expand bilateral ties in all areas and discussed other key issues of mutual concern, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. It said Kim expressed his resolve to carry out unspecified agreements he reached with Mr. Putin.

Mr. Lavrov described the talks as “comprehensive” and said, “We have an understanding on how to proceed to fulfill the agreements” between Mr. Putin and Mr. Kim.

After he arrived in Pyongyang, Mr. Lavrov gave a speech in which he said that Russia deeply valued North Korea’s “unwavering and principled support” for its military operation in Ukraine. Back in Moscow, he stressed that the effort to deepen the relationship between Russia and North Korea was based on bilateral concerns.

“Our friendship isn't directed against anyone. It's intended to help promote mutually beneficial projects,” he said.

Mr. Lavrov also told reporters that he supports holding regular talks on security issues on the Korean Peninsula with North Korea and China.

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