No quick solution is on the horizon in the escalating dispute over North Korea's nuclear programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday during a visit to Pyongyang, dpa reported.
"We expect no breakthrough initially," he said of efforts to restart the international negotiations that have been stalled since late last year, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The problem is complicated but when all the countries involved hold to the promises they made in previous agreements, then the crisis could be overcome, he was quoted as saying after meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui Chun.
Lavrov's visit to the North Korean capital came after the communist state's decision to withdraw from the six-nation negotiations to end its nuclear weapons programme.
Lavrov, who was the first high-ranking foreign leader to visit North Korea since then, was expected to try to persuade North Korea's leaders to return to the talks, in which Russia, North Korea, South Korea, China, the United States and Japan participate.
North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Lavrov's arrival without giving details of his visit.
The Russian foreign minister was scheduled Friday to visit South Korea, where Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwa called Thursday on North Korea to return to the negotiating table.
"North Korea should not exacerbate the situation any more, abide by the UN Security Council statement and push for denuclearization," Yu told reporters in Seoul.
Pyongyang pulled out of the six-party talks after the United Nations Security Council condemned its April 5 rocket launch. Pyongyang said it had launched a communications satellite, but the United States, Japan and South Korea said it was a test of a long-rang missile.
The Stalinist state also threatened to expand its nuclear arsenal and rebuild decommissioned nuclear facilities that can produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Shortly afterward, Pyongyang stopped its cooperation with the international nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and threw all its inspectors out of the country.