Senior officials from Russia have met in Moscow with a top South Korean diplomat in talks aimed at defusing the nuclear issue with North Korea. South Korea is asking Russia to use its influence with Pyongyang.

Senior diplomats from Russia and South Korea emerged from talks saying they hope the dispute with North Korea can be resolved soon.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said he and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Hang-kyung, discussed ways to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program, as demanded by the United States.

Diplomatic sources said the two men believe North Korea should get security guarantees in exchange for reversing its decision to restart facilities that could produce weapons-grade plutonium.

The U.S. has rejected North Korea's demand for a non-aggression pact. The Russian and South Korean diplomats appear to be looking for a compromise.

South Korea said Russia can be an effective channel for dialogue because it maintains good relations with the secretive communist regime in North Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of the few major world leaders who has made an official visit to Pyongyang. Mr. Putin, in turn, has hosted North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il on two occasions.

Last month Pyongyang restarted a nuclear-energy facility, saying the action was necessary after the U.S. halted shipments of fuel oil under a 1994 agreement.