Kim Jong Un Sergei Lavrov
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Washington's "instinct for hegemony" and its growing military presence in Asia are contributing to continued tensions in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said during a trip to North Korea.

The top Russian diplomat traveled to Pyongyang to meet senior officials, including North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui. The two-day trip was meant to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Speaking at a press conference to wrap up his visit, Lavrov said Moscow and Pyongyang shared concern "over the increase in military activity by the US, Japan, and South Korea, as well as Washington's effort to move elements of its strategic infrastructure, including nuclear aspects of it" into Asia.

Last month, Kim made a state visit to Russia. At Thursday's presser, a journalist claimed that Western reaction to his meeting with President Vladimir Putin had indicated fear of the "friendships" binding the two countries.

Lavrov declined to comment on this suggestion, but stressed that Western nations and the US in particular believe that they have a right to dictate, "who should meet whom, who should make agreements on what and with whom, and who should observe prohibitions."

"There is this instinct for hegemonism, which prevents [the US] from solving issues and only drives things into a dead end," the minister added.

As part of his itinerary, Lavrov commemorated Soviet soldiers who were buried in Pyongyang after sacrificing their lives in the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Imperial Japan during World War II.

He also laid flowers at a memorial plaque at the Russian embassy, marking the service there of late Ambassador Andrey Karlov. The diplomat headed the mission for five years in the 2000s. He was later named Russia's envoy to Türkiye, where he was killed by a gunman in 2016 during an embassy event.

Russia-North Korea relations have reached 'strategic level' - Lavrov

Relations between Russia and North Korea have now soared to new heights, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said during his landmark two-day trip to Pyongyang.

Speaking at a meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui on Thursday, Lavrov declared that the recent meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave grounds to say that the bilateral ties "had reached a completely new, strategic level."

His comments were echoed by his North Korean counterpart, who stated that the partnership between Moscow and Pyongyang is developing into "the invincible relations of comrades-in-arms."

This summer, the US sent a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea. In recent weeks, it has also staged several joint war games with Seoul's military on the peninsula, sparking outrage in Pyongyang, which has conducted a flurry of missile tests in the region.

Commenting on the actions of the US and its regional allies, Lavrov pointed out that "we are countering this unconstructive and dangerous line with a policy of ensuring de-escalation here and preventing tensions."

He added that Russia, North Korea, and China all support laying the groundwork for a "regular negotiation process on security issues on the Korean Peninsula" without any preconditions.

On Wednesday, Lavrov said that during his trip to North Korea, he planned to discuss the implementation of agreements that had been reached by Putin and Kim during their historic summit in Russia's Far East in September. At the time, the North Korean leader spent almost a week in the neighboring country, touring the Vostochny Cosmodrome, meeting with high-ranking officials, and inspecting Russian advanced weaponry, including nuclear-capable strategic bombers and fighter jets.

Lavrov also praised North Korea for its "unwavering and principled support" of Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, including its decision to recognize four formerly Ukrainian regions as part of Russia. The territories in question overwhelmingly voted to join Russia last autumn in public referendums. Earlier, North Korea recognized the results of the referendum in Crimea, which voted to become part of Russia after the 2014 coup in Kiev.