- Putin says Russia, Japan can sign peace treaty this year
- Says UK nerve agent suspects aren't criminals
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that North Korea was taking a lot of steps towards denuclearising the Korean Peninsula but Washington was not responding and was making endless demands for full disarmament instead.
Washington and Pyongyang have been discussing North Korea's nuclear programme since their leaders met in Singapore in June, though that summit's outcome was criticised for being short on details about how and whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was willing to give up weapons that threaten the United States.
Putin, speaking at an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, said Pyongyang had taken positive steps and was now waiting for a response. He said it was counter-productive if one side did a lot and the other did nothing.
"If North Korea does something towards denuclearisation it expects reciprocal steps and not endless demands for full disarmament," said Putin.
Putin said it was also important that North Korea received international guarantees about its own security and said Kim Jong Un was welcome to visit Russia at any time that was convenient for him.
During a question and answer session at the economic forum, Putin turned to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and offered to sign a peace treaty by the end of this year to formally end World War Two hostilities between their countries.
Russia and Japan have been in dispute for seven decades over the islands and as a result have still not formally ended their World War Two hostilities. The standoff has held back economic ties between the two near-neighbours.
Putin also said Russia knew the real identity of two men accused by British prosecutors of trying to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain using a deadly nerve agent.
Russia had found the two men, that they were civilians, and there was nothing special or criminal about them and that he hoped they would come forward and tell the world their own story, he said.
British prosecutors last week identified two Russians who they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - who they said had tried to murder the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent in England.