MOSCOW - South Korea is ready to work closely with Russia to help defuse the crisis over North Korea's nuclear program, a top Russian lawmaker said Friday.
Russian Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov met Friday with Soon-hyung Chough, South Korea president's special envoy.
"We agreed on active dialogue. We believe that Russia, the U.S., China and South Korea should be mediators for security on the Korean peninsula," Seleznyov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Russia backs a diplomatic solution of the crisis.
On Thursday, Russia criticized the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency's decision to refer the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council, saying the move dealt a blow to diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's move could open the way for punishing sanctions, which the North has said it would consider an act of war.
Russia has good ties with North Korea and is trying to mediate the standoff. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov recently visited Pyongyang and said Russia was planning new initiatives to encourage talks.
South Korean's envoy was expected to meet with Losyukov later Friday.