Lavrov’s visit comes as Pyongyang engages in hectic diplomacy with Washington, Seoul and Beijing. The visit is being seen as an attempt by Moscow, which shares border with the North, to ensure its voice is heard.

The visit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts by Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington to restore a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, originally scheduled for June 12 in Singapore but later canceled by Trump.

What happened

  • Lavrov met with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho and others at the Supreme People’s Assembly building in the North Korean capital.
  • Lavrov and his deputy Igor Morgulov paid their respects at a monument to Soviet soldiers in Pyongyang’s Moranbong Park.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier Lavrov and Ri were expected to discuss “vital issues of bilateral relations and key international and regional issues.”
  • Further details of Lavrov’s schedule in Pyongyong were not disclosed.

Waning influence

“Russia has waning influence in north-east Asia. It’s been more or less sidelined. It’s not a central player in the Korean peninsula standoff like it used to be during the Cold War,” Seoul-based journalist Jason Strother told DW.

“While Moscow wants to see tensions decrease on the Korean peninsula, it’s (Lavrov’s visit) about trying to have influence once again in the region.”  

Russia’s role: Lavrov’s visit is being viewed as an attempt by Russia to ensure that it’s not left out as Pyongyang makes fresh diplomatic overtures towards Washington, Seoul and Beijing.

Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, has so far remained largely on the sidelines amid the flurry of diplomacy involving its neighbor. Last year, Moscow offered to mediate between Washington and Pyongyang when tensions between the two were high following a series of missile tests by North Korea.

Series of meetings: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has already met twice with China’s President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He could end up meeting Trump as early as next month, if certain differences are ironed out.

Kim’s trusted aide and former spy chief Kim Yong Chol is in New York to hold talks with US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a bid to restore the Singapore summit between the two leaders.

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