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UN: No Agreement Reached on N. Korea - 2003-07-03


China and Russia have blocked Wednesday a second U.S. effort in the Security Council to condemn North Korea's revival of its nuclear program. The five permanent Security Council members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, held a closed-door meeting on the North Korea nuclear crisis.

But the diplomats failed to reach an agreement on a statement, presented by the United States, to pressure North Korea to comply with international obligations and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors.

The United States has been pressing the permanent council members to agree on the text, calling on Pyongyang to quote "immediately and completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable and irreversible manner."

But China and Russia said the timing is not right for the U.N. action. The two countries also blocked an earlier U.S. effort to condemn Pyongyang for its withdrawal in January from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

North Korea has warned that it would view punitive measures by the Security Council as an act of war.

Last week, North Korea's foreign minister Paek Nam Sun wrote a letter to the Security Council calling for impartiality and urging the diplomats not to take the U.S. side. The letter was addressed to Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, the council president for the month of June.

The six-page letter also reiterates Pyongyang's position in favor of direct talks with Washington. But the Bush administration continues to insist on multilateral discussions with the participation of the countries in the region.