President Donald Trump spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and told him that more needs to be done to scrap North Korea’s nuclear program.
“President Trump reiterated the importance of taking further steps to ensure the denuclearization of North Korea,” the White House said in a statement about the call.
Last month, the U.S. president accused Moscow of helping Pyongyang evade international sanctions meant to punish North Korea for its pursuit of a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching America, Reuters reminds.
The two presidents spoke after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence raised the prospect of talks with North Korea, but also emphasized that Washington would intensify its maximum pressure campaign against Pyongyang until it takes a meaningful step toward denuclearization.
North Korea conducted dozens of missile launches last year. Moscow signed on to the latest rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea imposed last year, including a ban on coal exports. The export is an important source of the foreign currency that North Korea needs to fund its nuclear program. Yet, according to intelligence sources from Western Europe, North Korea shipped coal to Russia at least three times last year after the ban was put in place.
Trump and Putin discussed other issues too. They talked about the recent Russian plane crash and about a potential peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
“President Putin noted that he would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Trump said that now is the time to work toward an enduring peace agreement,” the White House said.
Abbas reportedly later told the Russian president that he would not work with the United States in any form, according to Fox News.
“We state that from now on we refuse to cooperate in any form with the U.S. in its status of a mediator, as we stand against its actions,” Abbas told Putin.
The conversation between Trump and Putin came a day after a plane crash in Moscow. Trump told his Russian counterpart that the United States was standing by to assist Russian officials in their probe of the deadly event.