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Asian Officials Hope for Resumption of N. Korea Nuclear Talks 


Officials in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing are again generally speaking with one voice on North Korea, hoping Saturday's U.N. resolution condemning the North's July 5 missile tests will prompt Pyongyang to return to multi-national talks about its nuclear programs. But VOA's Steve Herman in Tokyo reports that Pyongyang shows no sign of budging.

North Korea remained defiant the day after the U.N. resolution. The North Korean Foreign Ministry "vehemently" denounced and refuted the resolution Sunday, saying it had been prompted by the "hostile" U.S. attitude toward the North. It called the U.N. Security Council "irresponsible" for approving the resolution, and said it would continue to increase what it called its "war deterrent for self-defense."

Earlier in the day, Japanese officials praised the resolution, even though it did not include the option of military action against North Korea that Tokyo had originally demanded.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters that following the resolution, Japan will look to reduce its financial ties with North Korea. Aso also says the Security Council's action sends a resolute message to North Korea, and he hopes Pyongyang will implement what the international community has called for in the resolution.

The resolution calls on U.N. member states not to sell to or buy from North Korea material or technology for missiles or weapons of mass destruction. It "demands" that Pyongyang suspend all missile activities, and urges the North to return to the nuclear talks.

South Korea, which was hesitant to back any resolution that invoked Article 7 of the U.N. charter - a move that could have permitted military action - also welcomed the final version Sunday.

Choo Kyu-Ho, the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, says the resolution sends a clear message to North Korea. He says North Korea will have to recognize the reality that the international community is taking its missile and nuclear activities more seriously.

China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement posted Sunday on its Internet site, expressed the hope that the resolution would prompt all parties to resume the nuclear talks as soon a possible. China, North Korea's long-time ally, had threatened to veto a stronger version of the resolution, but eventually voted for the watered-down version after Pyongyang refused to return to the talks.

Those talks, hosted by China, also include the two Koreas, Japan, the United States and Russia. North Korea has boycotted the talks since November, to protest unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the United States to curb what Washington says is counterfeiting and other illicit activities by Pyongyang.

Japan and South Korea have already joined the U.S. in imposing unilateral penalties on North Korea. After the missile launches, Japan banned a North Korean ferry from entering its domestic ports. It also barred North Korean officials from traveling to Japan.

South Korea has told Pyongyang it will not send any more badly-needed food aid to the North until the country returns to the six-way talks.

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