Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 22:02 UK

Key nations 'agree N Korea draft'

UN condemn N Korea over launch

Key UN countries have agreed a draft statement condemning North Korea's rocket launch, diplomats say.

The text, agreed by the Security Council's five permanent members and Japan, said that the launch had contravened a UN resolution.

The statement is considered a weaker response than the resolution initially sought by Japan and the US.

China and Russia had rejected that idea, calling on the international community to act with restraint.

They fear that a strong response could harm prospects for resuming stalled six-party talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

The full 15-member Security Council held a closed-door meeting later on Saturday to discuss the draft. Diplomats suggested they could vote on it as early as Monday.

North Korea says the purpose of its rocket launch was to put a satellite into orbit as part of its peaceful development of space.

But its neighbours say it was testing long-range missile technology - in violation of a UN resolution.

'Clear message'

The Security Council met earlier in the week but failed to agree a unanimous response.

Image grab of North Korean TV showing apparent rocket launch
North Korea says the launch was part of its "peaceful space development"

The apparent agreement came after envoys from permanent members the US, France, China, Russia and UK - plus Japan - held two-hour talks in New York.

US Ambassador Susan Rice said that the presidential statement would send a "clear message" to North Korea.

The council "condemns the 5 April 2009 launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which is in contravention of Security Council resolution 1718", the draft says.

The resolution, passed in 2006, bans North Korea from conducting ballistic missile or nuclear tests.

The statement urges North Korea to refrain from further launches and calls on the UN sanctions committee to better enforce existing sanctions against the communist country.

The draft represents a compromise, analysts say.

Japan and the US did not get the resolution they sought - but they did get a consensus that the launch violated resolution 1718, something China and Russia had initially been reluctant to set out.

Presidential statements are formal statements of the Security Council's position read out by the council's president. They require the approval of all council members.

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