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Seoul summons Russian ambassador over comments on N Korea

Seoul emphasised to Zinoviev that it is "deeply regrettable that the Russian side unconditionally supported North Korea while turning a blind eye to the truth
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul. — AFP file photo
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul. — AFP file photo
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SEOUL: South Korea summoned Russia's ambassador on Saturday to protest against "rude and ignorant" remarks after Moscow's foreign ministry blamed Seoul for rising tensions on the peninsula.


Nuclear-armed North Korea has this year declared Seoul its "principal enemy", closed agencies dedicated to reunification and outreach.


Russia has recently formed closer ties with Pyongyang, with South Korea and Washington claiming the North has shipped weapons to Moscow for use in its war with Ukraine.


Moscow's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the heightened tension on the Korean peninsula was "primarily due to the brazen policy of the United States and its allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan", referring to South Korea by its official name.


Zakharova made the remarks when asked about South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's recent description of North Korea as the only country in the world that has legislated the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.


Calling Yoon's remarks "blatantly biased", she also said Seoul "doesn't seem to realise that the United States' leading position is irrevocably becoming a thing of the past", and that the South "may turn out to be no more than a small bargaining chip in Washington's geopolitical games".


South Korea's foreign ministry said Saturday it had summoned Russian ambassador to Seoul Georgy Zinoviev to protest over Zakharova's comments.


Seoul emphasised to Zinoviev that it is "deeply regrettable that the Russian side unconditionally supported North Korea while turning a blind eye to the truth" and "criticised the statements of the South Korean leader in a highly disrespectful language", the foreign ministry said.


Such actions by Moscow would "only further worsen the relationship between South Korea and Russia", it said.


The ministry earlier called Zakharova's comments "rude, ignorant and biased below the level of a country's foreign ministry spokesperson".


"These remarks ignore the obvious and objective reality of North Korea's threatening rhetoric and continuous provocations raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the region," the ministry said in the statement on late Saturday.


Analysts have warned recently that North Korea could be testing cruise missiles ahead of sending them to Russia for use in Ukraine, with Washington and Seoul claiming leader Kim Jong Un has shipped weapons to Moscow despite UN sanctions banning such moves.


Kim made a rare overseas trip to Russia in September to meet President Vladimir Putin. — AFP


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