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Key U.S. senator says time not right for new North Korea legislation

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials at the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA/File Pix

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Any U.S. response to North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test is unlikely to include new sanctions legislation from the U.S. Congress, at least in the short term, an influential lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the tensions with Pyongyang were “so heightened” that he thought it would be more appropriate for lawmakers to wait.

“I don’t think rushing out right now legislatively is probably the place we need to be,” Corker told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

As part of an agreement on a broad sanctions bill that passed in July, members of Congress had agreed to consider additional, more stringent, sanctions on North Korea after returning to Washington after their August recess.

For example, some lawmakers have been pushing for legislation to impose “secondary” sanctions targeting banks that do business with North Korea.

A top North Korean diplomat warned on Tuesday that his country was ready to send “more gift packages” to the United States as world powers struggled for a response to Sunday’s weapons test, the latest in a series.

Senior officials from President Donald Trump’s administrations, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, are due to hold classified briefings on Wednesday for the House of Representatives and Senate to discuss North Korea and Afghanistan.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by James Dalgleish