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Reckless muscle-flexing could lead to frightening consequences over North Korea, warns Russia

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se after a Security Council meeting on North Korea at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Washington, United States Apr 28, 2017, 12.10 PM (IST)

The United States is not ruling out a direct dialogue with North Korea on its nuclear program, secretary of state Rex Tillerson said in an interview with National Public Radio.

"Obviously, that would be the way we would like to solve this," he said, according to the transcript published Friday, when asked whether Washington seeks talks with Pyongyang.

"But North Korea has to decide they're ready to talk to us about the right agenda -- and the right agenda is not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things.

Later, Rex Tillerson speaking at the UN Security Council said the threat of an attack by Pyongyang against Japan and South Korea is real and urged the UN Security Council to act "before North Korea does."

In remarks to the UN Security Council, Tillerson called on the international community to fully implement UN sanctions and to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

"With each successive detonation and missile test North Korea pushes northeast Asia and the world closer to instability and broader conflict," Tillerson told the 15-member council. "The threat of a North Korean attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real."

Meanwhile, Russia warned that mounting rhetoric and "reckless muscle-flexing" over North Korea could lead to missteps that would have "frightening consequences."

In comments apparently directed at the United States and Pyongyang, Russian deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov told the UN Security Council the "rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a situation where the whole world is seriously wondering whether there is going to be a war or not."

Gennady Gatilov told the Security Council that China's proposals to re-start talks with North Korea should be seriously examined and that sanctions alone would not work.

North Korea "is conducting itself in an inappropriate way," Gatilov told the UN. "At the same time, the option of using force are completely unacceptable and could lead to catastrophic consequences."

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called on North Korea and other countries to avoid behaviour or rhetoric that could increase tensions around Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

"In my opinion, and in the opinion of the prime minister, the situation on the Korean peninsula has unfortunately got a lot worse," said Putin.

"We call on all governments involved in regional matters to refrain from using belligerent rhetoric and to strive for peaceful constructive dialogue,"

Abe told the same news conference that he wanted Pyongyang to refrain from taking any actions that could be perceived as provocative by other countries.

(WION with agency inputs)

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