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    Kazakhstan urges N. Korea to resume nuke talks

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    ASTANA, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakhstan has condemned North Korea's nuclear test and urged the country to resume nuclear talks, a Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday.

    Ignoring repeated warnings from the international community to desist, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test early Monday.

    "Kazakhstan urges North Korea to resume the six-nation talks on its nuclear program that include China, Russia, the U.S, South Korea and Japan, and to abandon its nuclear ambitions," Yershan Ashikbayev said.

    "We are convinced that these [N. Korea's] actions will deepen the crisis in the non-proliferation sphere and will seriously harm global security," the diplomat said.

    North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and in February 2005 announced it had acquired nuclear weapons. Some experts, however, have questioned that claim.

    The six-nation talks, aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear program, opened in 2003 but stalled last November. Mediators have proposed building a nuclear reactor for North Korea if it abandoned its nuclear program, but Pyongyang said it wants the reactor first and will then give up its nuclear research.

    At the latest round of talks in September, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but later refused to return to the negotiating table until Washington lifts financial sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

    In early July, North Korea conducted test launches of ballistic missiles, including of a long-range Taepodong-2. Even though the tests were a failure, many countries interpreted them as an attempt to force the international community, especially the United States, to make concessions over the six-nation talks.

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