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Pyongyang has no plans to conduct new nuclear tests
Pyongyang has no plans to conduct new nuclear tests, an official spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. North Korea announced it had conducted its first nuclear test on Oct. 9, and threatened to take "physical measures" after the UN Security Council unanimously voted on October 14 to pass a resolution imposing sanctions on the reclusive communist state. The country did not specify what those measures would be, but a possibility of another nuclear test has been widely speculated, with U.S. media reporting suspicious activity at a suspected test site. "[North Korea's leader] Kim Jong-il said North Korea has no plans to conduct another nuclear test," China's Liu Jianchao told a news briefing. The minister, speaking after October 18-19 talks between Chinese envoy Tang Jiaxuan and Kim Jong-il, said the leader warned that "the country might take further action if pressure on North Korea continues." The diplomat denied reports that Kim Jong-Il had expressed regret over Pyongyang's nuclear test. "I didn't hear that Kim Jong-il had apologized," he said. China is a party to the stalled six-nation nuclear talks - which also involve the two Koreas, Russia, the U.S., and Japan - aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its controversial nuclear program. Russia advocates the resumption of the talks, and has called on the United States and North Korea to take a more flexible approach to the standoff, to help the talks on out of the deadlock. "We have urged the North Korean side to show maximum restraint and return to the negotiating table," Sergei Lavrov, speaking in St. Petersburg, said Tuesday. The talks stalled last November after Washington accused North Korea of counterfeiting U.S. dollars, and blocked its access to outside banks. North Korea hinted following the nuclear test that it may be willing to return to the negotiating table if Washington agrees to drop the restrictions. President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit in Moscow last weekend. Rice hailed Pyongyang's declared willingness to reengage in the talks, but said Washington's financial restrictions on Pyongyang would remain in place. Liu Jianchao said the talks were unlikely to resume this year, but urged the negotiating parties to step up efforts for a peaceful solution to the problem, adding that China retains constant contact with the sides to the talks.
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