Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Friday that the risks of rising tensions with North Korea leading to a military conflict are "very high," in part because of the escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and Pyongyang.
"Unfortunately, the rhetoric in Washington and Pyongyang is now starting to go over the top," Lavrov said at a forum for Russian students, according to Reuters. "We still hope and believe that common sense will prevail."
When asked if he believes the current standoff could lead to a military conflict, Lavrov said, "The risks are very high, especially taking into account the rhetoric."
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea heightened this week after it was reported North Korea successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon to place on a ballistic missile.
President Trump warned North Korea on Tuesday that continued provocation of the U.S. would lead to "fire and fury." On Thursday, the president said his warning may not have been "tough enough."
North Korea has outlined a plan to launch four ballistic missiles toward Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean, and Trump tweeted Friday that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" should Pyongyang follow through on its plan to attack Guam.
Trump's rhetoric toward North Korea has been criticized by some world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Lavrov, who said the threats coming from the U.S. and the rogue regime "worry" the Russians.
"Direct threats of using force are heard … The talk [in Washington] is that there must be a preventative strike made on North Korea, while Pyongyang is threatening to carry out a missile strike on the U.S. base in Guam," he said. "These [threats] continue non-stop, and they worry us a lot."
Instead, Lavrov encouraged the U.S. and North Korea to commit to a joint Russian-Chinese plan, which requires Pyongyang to freeze its missile tests. The plan also requires the U.S. and South Korea to place a moratorium on large-scale military exercises.
"If this double freezing finally takes place, then we can sit down and start from the very beginning — to sign a paper which will stress respect for the sovereignty of all those parties involved, including North Korea," the Russian foreign minister said.