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    Sanctions vs. N. Korea must not allow for military action - Russia

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    Russia's defense minister said Saturday that possible UN sanctions against North Korea should not even hint on military action against Pyongyang following the reported nuclear test there.

    MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense minister said Saturday that possible UN sanctions against North Korea should not even hint on military action against Pyongyang following the reported nuclear test there.

    Sergei Ivanov, who is also Russia's deputy prime minister, said following talks with Tang Jiaxuan, the Chinese president's envoy, now on an official visit to Russia to discuss the spread of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology, "Sanctions [of the UN Security Council] must not even hint on military action and must not be aimed against the North Korean people. Politico-diplomatic efforts must aim to resume the six-party talks as soon as possible."

    Russia and China, veto-wielding Security Council members have condemned the test, are also opposed to punitive economic measures against impoverished North Korea, which is already under limited international sanctions imposed in July after it conducted missile launches and relies heavily on foreign aid.

    The UN Security Council is expected to vote Saturday on the U.S.-drafted resolution to impose sanctions on the secretive communist state, which declared it had nuclear weapons in 2005 and claimed to have carried out an underground nuclear weapons test Monday.

    Liu Jianchao, a senior Foreign Ministry official of China, Pyongyang's strongest ally, said Thursday that China was seeking good neighborly relations with North Korea, and that it would not cut off economic assistance to Pyongyang. "China's economic assistance to North Korea is improving the living standards of its people," Jianchao said.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that diplomacy should be the only way for the international community to dissuade North Korea from further nuclear tests.

    But Ivanov said that if imposed, economic sanctions against North Korea must be immediately lifted in the event of progress at the six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

    The six-nation talks - North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States - on the nuclear issue launched in 2003, when the North withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, stalled last November over Pyongyang's demands that the U.S. lift sanctions imposed on it for its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

    Jiaxuan said both Russia and China were opposed to Pyongyang's nuclear tests and believe the international community's response should be strong and yet moderate.

    He also said the nuclear test had drastically changed the political situation in the region.

    "We urge all parties involved to return to negotiations in the six-party format," Jiaxuan said. "All parties must seek a peaceful solution to this issue."

    Ivanov also said the environment of Russia and China was not affected by the nuclear test, but added there was no guarantee that further tests would not cause serious environmental consequences for the countries that bordered on North Korea.

    "The nuclear test explosion did not inflict an environmental damage on Russia, and China also proved unaffected," Ivanov said, but added he shared the concerns of people in Russia's Far East, who had protested against the test and demanded to deter further nuclear explosions.

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