Putin promises 'productive' Russian Federation role in denuclearizing N

During the 40-minute conversation, he also proposed sending a special delegation to Beijing that will "exclusively discuss the THAAD and the North's nuclear issues", Yoon said.

Moon was part of the South's last liberal government, which pursued a "Sunshine policy" of reconciliation and dialogue with the North, and is widely expected to shift away Park's hardline approach.

"Sanctions against North Korea are also a means to bring the North to the negotiating table aimed at eliminating its nuclear weapons", Yoon told a briefing.

Moon has taken a more conciliatory line with North Korea than his conservative predecessors and advocates engagement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in have held a telephone conversation to discuss a number of issues, including those involving North Korea, the Kremlin's press-service said. An early summit between Moon and Trump began to take shape during a phone call between the two leaders on the evening of May 10.

Regional experts have believed for months that North Korea is preparing for its sixth nuclear test.

The statement says Xi relayed China's opposition to the missile-defense system being installed in South Korea that it says threatens its own security. Observers said recent tensions over Seoul's deployment of a United States missile defence system were behind that decision.

But until Thursday, South Korea had not been invited.

Moon also expressed hopes the two countries would be able to cooperate in developing East Asia, including extending a natural gas pipeline from Siberia to South Korea, the Blue House said.

Xi told Moon South Korea and China should respect each other's concerns, set aside differences, seek common ground and handle disputes appropriately, China's foreign ministry said.

Ties between Seoul and Beijing have soured over the South's deployment of a controversial USA anti-missile system aimed at guarding against threats from the nuclear-armed North.

"Putin and Moon agreed on further contacts", the Kremlin said.

Mr Moon also spoke to Mr Xi about the difficulties faced by some South Korean companies doing business in China facing discrimination in retaliation for the Thaad deployment.

  • Zachary Reyes