Russia revealed on Wednesday that it had sent a military delegation to North Korea but did not disclose the purpose of the visit.
The delegation included Viktor Kalganov, deputy head of Russia's National Defence Management Centre, responsible for national security issues, state media reported.
"North Korea is our neighbour. We need to develop relations with that country, and political dialogue is very important," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
The delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday and was scheduled to stay until Saturday, the Interfax news agency reported. Russia and China have the relatively closest diplomatic relations with the insular state of North Korea.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov insisted that the delegation's visit did not violate UN sanctions because it was "within the framework of normal exchanges between servicemen," according to comments carried by Interfax.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which borders Russia, have escalated in recent months as North Korea tests nuclear weapons in a show of force against South Korea and that country's allies Japan and the United States.
Russia's Foreign Ministry called on North Korea and the United States on Wednesday to refrain from taking any steps that could further exacerbate the tensions, according to comments carried by state media.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that tensions escalated late last month when North Korea tested a ballistic missile and the US responded with increased military activity in the region.
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