Moscow, Dec 14 (AFP) Russian president Vladimir Putin said today that he welcomed the United States’ “awareness of reality” in the North Korea crisis after Washington announced it was ready for talks with Pyongyang without preconditions.

“This is a very good sign that shows that the American leadership is moving towards an awareness of reality,” Putin said during his annual year-end press conference.

“We believe that both sides need to stop aggravating the situation,” he added.

“North Korea is a closed country. It’s enough for one firing (of a missile) from North Korea and the consequences will be catastrophic,” he said.

According to Putin, Pyongyang feels threatened by Washington and “sees no other way for survival other than developing weapons of mass destruction.”

But he said that Russia “does not recognise North Korea’s nuclear status,” added that “We need to be extremely careful.” On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Washington that the United States was ready to talk to North Korea “without preconditions”, backing away from US insistence that Pyongyang accept in principle to disarm.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said yesterday that Moscow viewed the statement positively.

“We can state that such constructive statements impress us far more than the confrontational rhetoric that we have heard up to now. Undoubtedly this can be welcomed,” Peskov said. (AFP)

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.