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UN Security Council to hold ministerial meeting on NKorea

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Japan announced Friday it will host a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 15 focused on finding peaceful ways to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests and denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho told a news conference that more must be done beyond the "very robust" sanctions that the council has already imposed targeting the financing and materials for Kim Jong Un's nuclear and missile programs.

Bessho, who is this month's council president, said members are discussing a "product" from the ministerial meeting, but it isn't clear whether it might be a statement or a resolution.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to brief the council, and U.S. officials say Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is likely to attend. Bessho said Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono will chair the meeting and several ministers and deputy ministers, whom he refused to name, are also expected.

All 15 council members strongly condemned North Korea's launch Tuesday of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile which South Korea's Defense Ministry said Friday is potentially capable of striking targets as far as 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles), which would put Washington within reach.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told an emergency council meeting Wednesday that the missile launch brought the world closer to a war the U.S. doesn't want, and warned that if war comes Kim's regime "will be utterly destroyed."

That sparked a strong rebuke Friday from Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"If somebody is very eager to use force to wipe out North Korea, as the United States' U.N. envoy said, it was a very bloodthirsty tirade," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying at a Rome news conference with his Italian counterpart.

Lavrov also spoke of having "the impression over the last two months that there is someone in Washington who wants to provoke new actions" by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK, the country's official name.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council at Wednesday's emergency meeting that Russia believes the only way to resolve the situation and find a long-term solution is through "tireless and diplomatic efforts."

"In this context, we call on all sides to immediately begin work on finding a formula for political and diplomatic settlement," he said. "We don't see any rational alternative to this path."

Bessho, asked about Haley's tough words, said only: "She meant, I'm sure, it as a message to different parties."

As the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack in World War II, he said Japan feels very strongly that North Korea's nuclear program needs to be stopped.

"We obviously are not looking for a military solution ourselves," Bessho said. "I don't think anybody likes a military solution. We are trying in the Security Council to find a way to make DPRK change its policy."

Haley called on all countries Wednesday to cut ties to North Korea. She talked about additional measures against the DPRK and said President Donald Trump called China's President Xi Jinping Wednesday morning and urged him to cut off all oil deliveries to North Korea.

China and Russia objected to that idea in the latest U.N. sanctions resolution.

Earlier Friday, Bessho said "I don't think it was referring specifically to ... U.N. Security Council measures." The United States has imposed its own sanctions against the DPRK.

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