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Russia’s Lavrov warns US over aggressive North Korea rhetoric

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the US against its “aggressive rhetoric” towards North Korea.

During a Tuesday phone call with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lavrov stressed that Washington’s actions have heightened tension on the Korean peninsula.

“The importance of an early transition from the language of sanctions to negotiations was emphasized,” said a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Despite the warning, the two senior politicians “shared a common opinion that the nuclear-missile developments in [North Korea] violate the demands of the United Nations Security Council,” it added.

The statement added that Lavrov and Tillerson both agreed to boost dialogue on issues in the sphere of strategic stability, and to “stay in close contact.”

The announcement came shortly after the US sanctioned two senior North Korean officials over the country’s ballistic missile program.

Tensions have been boiling on the Korean peninsula since early summer when Pyongyang test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and then carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test. Defying rounds of United Nations economic sanctions, the North tested a new ICBM, the Hwasong-15, nearly a month ago.

Experts say North Korea has virtually mastered the capability to use the ICBMs with nuclear warheads in potential attacks that could target the entire United States, South Korea’s closest ally in countering the North.

Many also fear that increased pressure on North Korea and bellicose threats of war against the isolated nation from Washington could finally spark a nuclear confrontation in the region. Pyongyang harshly reacted to a recent round of sanctions adopted Friday over the test-firing of Hwasong-15, and called them an act of war.

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