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Japan slaps ban on North Korea

Tokyo, Oct. 11 (Reuters): Japan announced new sanctions against North Korea today over its reported nuclear test and President George W. Bush said Washington was working to ensure there would be “serious repercussions” for Pyongyang.

The reclusive communist state held out the threat of more tests and its KCNA news agency, known for blustering anti-US rhetoric, said pressure from Washington to rein in its nuclear programme would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said new sanctions, underpinning those imposed after Pyongyang test-fired missiles in July, included barring all North Korean ships from Japanese ports and banning imports. “The country whose security is most affected by these actions by North Korea is Japan,” Shiozaki said. “Considering the gravity for our country, we made this decision based on a comprehensive judgment.”

Bush said he saw a new consensus emerging among the world’s major powers that it was vital to act now. China and Russia, North Korea’s main trading partners, have been more tolerant of Pyongyang in the past.

“In response to North Korea’s actions, we’re working with our partners in the region and the UN Security Council to ensure there are serious repercussions for the regime in Pyongyang,” Bush said. “The world has made it clear that these tests caused us to come together and work in the UN to send a clear message to the North Korean regime,” he said.

Bush said he was committed to diplomacy and had no intention of attacking North Korea. But he rejected demands that he engage directly with North Korea on a bilateral basis, as Pyongyang wants, saying this approach failed in the past. UN secretary general Kofi Annan again urged such bilateral talks today, telling reporters: “I’ve always argued that we should talk to parties whose behaviour we want to change, whose behaviour we want to influence.”

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