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Japan Pushes for Friday Vote on UN Sanctions Against North Korea

Japan is pushing the United Nations Security Council to time a vote on a resolution about North Korea's missile tests to coincide with the start of the Group of Eight summit of leading industrialized countries.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso says it is time for the United Nations Security Council to vote on a resolution concerning North Korea's July 5 missile tests.

Aso says Japan wants the issue resolved by the end of the day in New York. That is shortly before the Group of Eight leaders convene in Russia for their annual summit.

The Security Council is considering two resolutions. One proposed by Japan - and supported by the United States and several other council members - calls for sanctions. An alternative proposed by China - and backed by Russia - does not include such strong action.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Friday that China and Russia have moved closer to Japan's position, but not far enough.

Abe says Japan's stance remains firm - a quick adoption of a resolution that includes sanctions.

China, which has veto power as a permanent council member, has indicated it will vote against the Japanese proposal. China argues sanctions will not help bring North Korea back to six-nation talks on ending its nuclear programs.

Japanese news media on Friday, quoting government sources, reported that a compromise between Beijing and Tokyo is likely. The officials are quoted as saying that while Japan may budge on invoking Article 7 of the U.N. charter, which provides for the possibility of military action, Tokyo will insist on requiring sanctions and that the resolution call North Korea's missile launches a threat to global peace and security.

Foreign Ministry officials Friday denied that Japan is open to any such compromises.

North Korea defied international warnings and fired at least seven missiles into the Sea of Japan last week. The tests were seen as antagonistic given that Pyongyang has refused since last year to return to talks on implementing its pledge to give up its nuclear weapons programs. The United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia have all promised aid and diplomatic benefits to North Korea once it abandons its nuclear ambitions.