Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia views the cancellation of the US-North Korea summit with “regret,” adding that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had done everything he had promised to do.
Putin made the comments during a joint press conference in St. Petersburg with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is in the country on his first official visit.
Hours earlier, US President Donald Trump announced that he had scrapped plans to meet with Kim in Singapore on June 12, blaming increasingly hostile rhetoric from Pyongyang. The move ends months of diplomatic advances that had been heralded by Trump as the likely precursor to a historic peace deal and the denuclearization of North Korea.
“Kim Jong Un on his part did everything he promised to do, even blew up some tunnels on their sites and after this we hear the US is canceling the meeting,” Putin said, referring to North Korea’s apparent destruction of at least three nuclear tunnels, observation buildings, a metal foundry and living quarters at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site on Thursday.
A CNN crew at the remote mountain site in the country’s north witnessed explosions at nuclear tunnels 2, 3 and 4, from observation decks about 500 meters away.
Putin said that Russia had “counted” on the summit to be “the beginning to the whole process of denuclearization.”
Macron, who is in Russia amid a push by European lawmakers to save the Iran nuclear deal, echoed the sentiment, saying that he hoped the cancellation was “just a hitch” in the peace process.
The French President was unsuccessful in persuading Trump to stick with the Iran nuclear deal during an official visit to the US last month. At the time, Trump’s critics said that his decision to scrap the Iran deal raised questions over his ability to forge an agreement with North Korea.
In addition to the US exit from the Iranian nuclear deal, Macron’s talks with Putin are set to focus on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
Speaking at length in St. Petersburg, Macron said that the international community will continue to play its part in trying to achieve denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula.
Putin said Russia and its partners would do the same by working to try to bridge the gap between the US and North Korea.
“We hope very much that dialogue will be revitalized, renewed, because without that we can’t hope for any kind of significant progress in solving this extraordinarily important issue,” Putin said.