Putin warns North Korea situation on verge of ‘large-scale conflict’

By Andrew Osborn, Dmitry Solovyov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday that the standoff between North Korea and the United States was close to spilling into a large-scale conflict and said it was a mistake to try to pressure Pyongyang into halting its nuclear missile program.

Putin, due to attend a summit of the BRICS nations in China next week, said the only way to de-escalate tensions was via talks, and Sergei Lavrov, his foreign minister, said Washington not Pyongyang should take the initiative on that. “It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks),” Putin, whose country shares a border with North Korea, wrote on the Kremlin’s web site.

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