Putin: US would need to offer firm guarantees to NKorea

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Putin: US would need to offer firm guarantees to NKorea

"This in my view is very important - at this level a mutual respect has to exist in all circumstances, and a personal relationship can become a tool for solving global issues", said the Russian President.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview broadcast on Monday, said he did not want to divide the European Union as he prepared to visit Austria in his first bilateral trip to a West European country in nearly a year.

Questions posted ahead of the event included asking Putin whether he planned to meet U.S. President Donald Trump this year, whether relations with the West would improve anytime soon, how he planned to reduce poverty, and why petrol prices were rising so fast. The two countries aim to boost co-operation in areas such as infrastructure, energy, scientific research and high tech.

When asked whether a global conflict might break out, Putin quoted legendary physicist Albert Einstein, who once said that while he doesn't know what weapons might be used to wage Third World War, "World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones".

Mr Putin's sixth official visit to the country marks the 50th anniversary of the start of Soviet gas deliveries to the country. For his part, Van der Bellen underscored Austria's traditional desire "to defuse tensions" adding, "Russia is clearly a part of Europe and not something external".

"They are harmful for everyone, those who put them in place and those who are targeted", he said.

Russia is hosting the World Cup from June 14 to July 15 in 11 Russian cities including Rostov-on-Don, some 100 km (60 miles) from the border with Ukraine.

Replying to a question about worldwide pressure against Moscow, Putin explained that these accusations and sanctions are aimed at containing Russia's development.

"Russia, of all countries, is not interested in it because North Korea is our neighbor", Putin said, according to a transcript of the interview published by the Russian presidency.

The legislation gives the president, among other things, the power to sever ties with unfriendly countries, and to ban trade of goods with those countries.

Kurz noted at the same time that Vienna will "obviously maintain the decisions of the European Union, including the sanctions" when it takes over the six-month European Union rotating presidency on July 1.

Putin's visit to Austria, where he has held meetings with Chancellor Kurz of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the nationalist Freedom Party (FPÖ), is his first to Europe since he was re-elected to a fourth term as president.

Significantly, the right-wing FPOe party - the junior partner of Kurz's People's Party - supports Russia's claim of sovereignty over Crimea and advocates the easing of economic sanctions against Moscow.

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