March 16, 2012 / 4:07 PM / 5 years ago

Russia urges North Korea to refrain from rocket launch

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia expressed serious concern on Friday over North Korea's plan to launch a satellite and urged Pyongyang not to set up any obstacles to the revival of six-nation talks over its nuclear program.

"The announcement about an upcoming launch of a satellite in the DPRK causes serious concern," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to North Korea by an acronym.

"We call on Pyongyang not to put itself in opposition to the international community, to refrain from actions that increase tension in the region and create additional complications for the relaunch of six-sided negotiations about the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula," it said.

The ministry also called for "maximum restraint from all sides", suggesting aggressive responses by North Korea's neighbors would also be ill-advised.

Russia said it has never rejected North Korea's right to peaceful space exploration, but echoed Japan by saying that a launch using ballistic missile technology would violate a binding U.N. Security Council resolution regardless of whether its purpose is military or civilian.

The Russian statement said diplomatic efforts and the resumption of long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia were "the only realistic path" to the eventual removal of sanctions, including those restricting North Korea's right to launch rockets.

Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Andrew Heavens

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