Kate De Pury Associated Press.

The US wants Russia to do more to persuade North Korea to halt its missile programmes. Would Russia support tougher sanctions against North Korea? And do you think that cooperation on North Korea could warm up US-Russia relations? Or have you lost hope of mending them under Mr Trump? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You are such interesting people. Have you noticed that members of US Congress and Senate are so nice-looking and beautifully dressed in fancy suits and shirts? They seem to be intelligent people. They have put us on the same level with North Korea and Iran, and at the same time, they continue to prod the President to talk us into addressing the issues of North Korea and the Iranian nuclear programme together with your country.

What is the matter with you? You must agree that this sounds strange, and that it somehow goes beyond common sense. However, unlike some countries, our policy mostly lacks political time-serving considerations.

We are trying to work constructively with everyone on the most topical issues in the area of international security. We are trying not to sulk and not to take offence with someone in response to decisions that we sometimes fail to understand.

Regarding North Korea, our position is well known: we do not recognise North Korea’s nuclear status. We believe that everything taking place there is counterproductive.

I have already said this, and I would like to tell you once again that in 2005 the concerned parties came to an agreement with North Korea that it would terminate its nuclear weapons programme. North Korea assumed certain obligations. Everyone agreed and signed these agreements.

Only several months later, the United States decided that these agreements were not enough. The US side promptly froze the accounts of North Korean banks and said that North Korea had to do something else outside the framework of these agreements.

But North Korea decided not to bother and withdrew from all those agreements, and started developing its nuclear programme once again. Why did you do that? Did you think this was not enough? Then why did you sign the agreements if you thought it was not enough? In reality, you provoked North Korea to withdraw. Later, the situation became aggravated even further with Libya and Iraq. I have spoken about this many times.

North Korea sees no other means of self-preservation but to develop weapons of mass destruction and missile technology. As you can see, their upgraded missiles are now capable of hitting the United States. Is there anything good in this situation?

We believe that both sides need to stop ramping up tensions. At one point, we heard from our American partners that they would stop military exercises. Well, they have conducted another exercise, and the North Koreans have launched their missiles yet again. This spiral has to end because it is an extremely dangerous thing.

We have talked with our American partners. Supposing that the United States launches some strikes with high-precision non-nuclear weapons, what targets will be attacked? Do the CIA or the Defence Intelligence Agency know exactly what targets, and where, must be hit with one single strike?

Of course, they do not because North Korea is a walled-in country. You know some things, and you have no idea about others. And even one North Korean missile launch would have disastrous consequences. I repeat, the consequences would be disastrous.

Yes, the United States has already used nuclear weapons against Japan. I do not believe it was justified. Now there is absolutely no need for this. It is important to be very careful.

Mr Tillerson has recently said that the United States is prepared to establish direct contacts. This is a very good message showing that some changes are taking place among US leaders and at the Department of State, and that they are coming to recognise certain facts, hopefully together with the US intelligence community and the Pentagon.

If we proceed on the basis of common sense, then we will, of course, cooperate with the United States on all such issues, including North Korea.

Source: President of Russia Website Kremlin Moscow http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.enKorea.