North Korea is reportedly open to direct talks with the U.S. over its nuclear ambitions, according to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who delivered his message to United States secretary of state, Rex Tillerson during their meeting in Vienna on Thursday.
It's not immediately known what the two discussed but Korean Peninsula issues, including the North's nuclear and missile programs, are expected to have been on the agenda.
Lavrov then conveyed the offer on Monday when United Nations official, Jeffrey Feltman met North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho in Pyongyang during the first United Nations visit to the country in six years.
Feltman arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a four-day visit. The North recently launched its most advanced missile to date and the USA and South Korea are now holding joint exercises with some of the world's most powerful fighter aircraft.
A flag is pictured outside the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2017.
In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Foreign Minister Ri defended his country's missile and nuclear programs as a "righteous self-defensive measure" in the face of US hostility and nuclear threats.
Feltman's trip is being closely watched to see whether it will influence North Korea to curb its incendiary behavior and draw the United Nations into a role as mediator in the increasingly tense situation, especially between Pyongyang and Washington. But US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed a somewhat different perspective during the daily press briefing on December 7.
Indications of North Korea's willingness emerged following a Russian parliamentary delegation visited the North Korean leadership around the end of November.
"North Korea has confirmed that Pyongyang is not interested in escalation of the conflict or military action, but it is not afraid of war, as it was formulated in yesterday's statement of [North Korea's] Ministry of Foreign Affairs", Kosachev said.