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China, Russia firm in opposing UN bans on N Korea

Written by: Staff

UNITED NATIONS, July 6 (Reuters) China and Russia held firm in their opposition to a Japanese-drafted UN resolution that would call for sanctions on North Korea for its barrage of missile tests, including a long-range weapon, diplomats said.

Consequently the 15-member UN Security Council, whose junior diplomats meet on the issue again today, may have to resort to a statement, which is weaker than a resolution and does not impose any action, participants at the talks said.

The United States and Britain, which co-sponsored the Japanese draft, have veto power on the council along with France, Russia and China. A resolution needs nine votes and no veto whereas a statement needs the approval of all 15 members.

Negotiations late on Wednesday resulted in a stalemate and envoys consulted their respective governments. ''China and Russia were tough,'' said one Western participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were secret.

Japan, a possible target of the North Korean missiles, circulated a draft resolution that condemned the launches and would bar any nation from transferring funds, material and technology for North Korea's missile or nuclear program.

The document also demands North Korea halt ''the development, testing, deployment and proliferation of ballistic missiles,'' return to talks on its nuclear program and stop all work on nuclear-related activities.

It also deplores North Korea's role as the ''world's leading proliferator of ballistic missiles and related technology.'' Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, France's UN ambassador and the current Security Council president, said that 13 council nations favored a resolution ''but two delegations thought a presidential statement would be more appropriate.'' ''It's too early to say at this moment what the outcome will be except to say that there is an agreement in the council to act swiftly and firmly,'' de la Sabliere said after emergency council consultations on Wednesday.

Defying international warnings, North Korea launched at least six missiles early Wednesday and a seventh some 12 hours later, officials in Japan and South Korea said.

The long-range Taepodong-2, which could theoretically hit the continental United States, fell into the Sea of Japan within a minute of the launch.

Both China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya and Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin referred to a council statement in 1998 after North Korea fired a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

China had opposed council action and members instead issued a press statement of regret two weeks after the launch.

But Japan's UN Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said ''the seven launches of missiles this time -- and there may be more -- was far more serious'' than the August 1998 incident.

Saying Russia had ''serious concerns'' about North Korea's actions, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he opposed sanctions and favored a diplomatic solution.

''In my mind we could consider the format of a presidential statement,'' Churkin said.

Still, US President George W Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in a telephone conversation, agreed to work together on UN sanctions, the Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday.

US Ambassador John Bolton told reporters that ''no member defended what the North Koreans have done.'' ''The tenor of that discussion shows how little support there is in the international community as a whole for these North Korean missile launches,'' he said.


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