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. Japan seeks G8 pressure on NKorea in wake of missile tests
HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 7 (AFP) Jun 07, 2007
Japan called on G8 partners to send a clear message to North Korea over its nuclear ambitions on Thursday in the wake of fresh missile tests by the reclusive state.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the lead in discussions on North Korean issues on the second day of the Group of Eight summit in the German resort of Heiligendamm.

Abe condemned the North for failing to ease international concerns over its nuclear programme, and a dispute over Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s.

"North Korea's nuclear development is intolerable," Abe told the summit, according to a Japanese government official.

"The international community should send a clear message to North Korea," which has yet to meet its promise to close a nuclear reactor suspected of fueling its weapons programme, Abe said.

"The G8 must coordinate and take firm action on the issues," he added.

North Korea on Thursday test-fired two short-range missiles, less than two weeks after its previous launch, the South Korean military said.

The tests come at a sensitive time as the G8 leaders were discussing regional security while negotiators have struggled to settle a banking row which is blocking a start to the North's promised nuclear disarmament.

In an apparent breakthrough accord in February, the impoverished communist state agreed to close its only working reactor at Yongbyon by mid-April in return for massive aid and diplomatic concessions.

But North Korea refuses to act until it recovers 25 million dollars (19 million euros) which have been frozen in a Macau bank since 2005 under US-instigated sanctions.

Japan has taken the hardest line at six-nation nuclear talks and has imposed economic sanctions, saying it will not help North Korea until the emotionally charged kidnapping dispute is resolved.

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