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(LEAD) S. Korea says China could use delaying tactics over U.N. resolution

All News 22:22 January 17, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details)

TOKYO, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- A senior South Korean diplomat said Sunday that China could use delaying tactics over a looming U.N. resolution meant to punish North Korea for its recent nuclear test.

The U.N. Security Council has been working on a new sanctions resolution against North Korea, which has already been under U.N. sanctions for its three previous nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

The previous sanctions have failed to stop North Korea from carrying out what it claimed was its first hydrogen bomb test earlier this month.

"China could try to tactically delay" the resolution process, the diplomat told South Korean reporters, adding that the international community won't be 100 percent satisfied with any resolution because of China and Russia.

China and Russia are two of the veto-wielding five permanent members of the council. The three other members are the United States, Britain and France.

As a traditional ally of North Korea, China has voiced its firm opposition to North Korea's nuclear program but is apparently against strongly punishing its neighbor.

The diplomat also said the U.N. "could be taking some action this week" regarding sanctions on North Korea.

"I understand the draft for the new resolution hasn't yet circulated, but at least the outline of it must be circulating," the diplomat said. "China must be studying it closely."

China is concerned that harsh sanctions could make it more difficult for North Korea to return to the long-stalled talks on ending its nuclear program.

The nuclear talks, which involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, were last held in 2008.

Last week, China said a new U.N. resolution must focus on safeguarding stability in the region.

South Korea, the U.S. and Japan agreed to push for a "strong and comprehensive" response to North Korea's nuclear test in their first trilateral consultations in Tokyo on Saturday.

"It appears that the U.S. believes it should send a clear signal to North Korea this time," as it will hold a presidential election this year, the diplomat said of the meeting among South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki.

Later on Sunday, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se spoke with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, on the phone about the U.N. response to the North's nuclear test, according to the Foreign Ministry here. Egypt is a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

Yun asked for Egypt's "active role" in adopting a strong sanctions resolution. In response, Shoukry said the recent nuclear test was "a grave challenge" to the international peace and security and also to the global non-proliferation regime, and vowed close cooperation in the adoption of the resolution.

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