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China, France Call for Diplomacy to Resolve North Korean Standoff


China and France are expressing "serious" concern about North Korea's recent nuclear test, saying the crisis should be resolved through urgent diplomacy.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and visiting French President Jacques Chirac issued a joint declaration Thursday in Beijing, urging North Korea to return to six-nation disarmament talks.

The leaders encouraged all parties involved in the talks to peacefully resolve the nuclear standoff.

North Korea stirred international outcry after it detonated a nuclear device underground earlier this month. In response, the U.N. Security Council imposed financial and weapons sanctions on Pyongyang.

Also Thursday, South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said Seoul will ban the entry of North Koreans involved in the country's nuclear weapons program.

It is Seoul's first attempt at enforcing the U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

On Wednesday, North Korea warned South Korea that it would take action if Seoul imposes the international sanctions against Pyongyang.

Later in the day, President Bush said threats by North Korea are designed to test the will of the five nations trying to peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a speech Wednesday that she was pleased by the serious commitment of U.S. allies to the Security Council resolution.

The resolution prevents trade in a range of goods, freezes North Korean assets and bans travel for people connected to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP, Reuters