Merkel backs tougher U.N. sanctions against North Korea call with Putin

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the beginning of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Bernd Von Jutrczenka/POOL

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday voiced her support for tougher U.N. sanctions against North Korea in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a German government spokesman said.

“There was agreement that the conflict about North Korea’s nuclear armament must be resolved peacefully,” Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

Merkel told Putin she supported efforts of the U.N. Security Council to rapidly adopt further sanctions against North Korea to make Pyongyang change its course, he added.

Merkel also welcomed Russia’s proposal of deploying U.N. peacekeepers to address the Ukraine crisis, but stressed that the proposed mandate needed to be expanded, Seibert said.

Putin signaled his willingness to look into the idea of deploying U.N. peacekeepers not only on the contact line in the Donbass region, but also in other areas in eastern Ukraine to protect OSCE officials monitoring the Minsk peace deal, he added.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber,