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Russia, France say talks are only way to solve North Korea crisis

Pedestrians walk in front of a large TV screen in Tokyo broadcasting a news report on North Koreas latest missile test
Toru YAMANAKA (AFP)
Earlier on Friday, North Korea carried out the latest in a string of missile tests

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call on Friday that resuming direct talks with North Korea was the only way to resolve tensions over its nuclear programme, the Kremlin said. 

In a statement, the Kremlin said the two leaders "were united in the opinion that it was unacceptable to allow an escalation in tension."

The crisis needs to be resolved "exclusively through political and diplomatic means, by restarting direct negotiations," they reportedly said.

Both Putin and Macron "decisively condemned the provocative" firing by North Korea of a ballistic missile Friday over Japan and into the Pacific, the statement said.  

The latest launch came days after the UN slapped new sanctions on Pyongyang following its sixth nuclear test earlier this month. 

Alexei Druzhinin (Sputnik/AFP)

In the statement, the Kremlin said that during Putin's talk with Macron "it was underlined that an adequate response to Pyongyang's irresponsible steps was taken" by the UN.

Russia backed the new sanctions against North Korea on Monday, banning it from trading in textiles and restricting oil imports.

But Moscow refused to support tougher measures like an oil embargo and Washington had to soften its stance in order to secure the backing of Russia and China, the North's strongest backers.

The United States called on China and Russia to take "direct actions" to rein in North Korea after it fired the missile.

"China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

Latest test

Kim Won-Jin (AFP)

The US Pacific Command confirmed Friday's rocket was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) and said it did not pose a threat to North America or to the US Pacific territory of Guam, which Pyongyang has threatened to bracket with "enveloping fire".

Seoul's defense ministry said it probably traveled around 3,700 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometers.

The North has raised global tensions with its rapid progress in weapons technology under leader Kim Jong-Un, who is closely associated with the program and regularly pictured by state media overseeing launches and visiting facilities.

The North's last missile launch, a Hwasong-12 IRBM just over two weeks ago, also overflew Japan's main islands and was the first to do so for years.

But when Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July that appeared to bring much of the US mainland into range, it fired them on lofted trajectories that avoided passing over the archipelago nation.

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