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State Department Says North Korea Diplomatic Effort Moving to UN

The U.S. State Department says the center of diplomatic efforts on North Korea's nuclear program is moving from Asia to the United Nations.

Spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Thursday that it is a positive step to have all parties discuss passing a U.N. resolution on North Korea's recent missile launches and its refusal to give up its nuclear program.

McCormack also said the fact that North Korea walked out of ministerial talks with South Korea earlier Thursday is another example of Pyongyang ignoring its neighbors' requests to engage in constructive behavior.

South Korean officials say North Korean delegates rejected a request to return to six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. In response, South Korea is refusing to resume food aid to the impoverished communist nation. These were the first inter-Korean talks since North Korea test-fired seven missiles last week.

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill left Asia Thursday after a week of shuttle diplomacy that gained little ground in the effort to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

Japan is seeking a swift U.N. Security Council vote on a draft resolution to impose sanctions on Pyongyang for its missile tests. Hill said he is confident the United Nations will send a very strong message to North Korea about its missile tests.

China and Russia have suggested a new, softer proposal to avoid sanctions. Their draft urges Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear program but drops language that could lead to future military action.

Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi told VOA his nation is not backing down from its stance that any Security Council resolution must punish North Korea.

But Japan's Kyodo news reports Thursday that a senior Foreign Ministry official said Japan plans to work on its draft resolution based on a proposal from China and Russia. The official said what is important is to adopt a binding resolution.

In Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the participants in the upcoming Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg may discuss the situation in North Korea.

And in Indonesia, a spokesman for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says the Indonesian leader has postponed a planned trip to North Korea next week.