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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Steps Up Pressure For Korean Conference

A Russian deputy minister said Tuesday only an international conference could defuse the crisis over North Korea's refusal to allow unhindered inspections of its nuclear sites.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Panov said Pyongyang, defiant in the face of possible sanctions, might be more flexible in multilateral talks.

"We do not say attempts by the UN Security Council should be stopped," Panov told a news conference.

"But what we see is that its previous attempts have had no result," he said. "We think the time has come for multilateral consultations."

The crisis erupted earlier this month after the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said experts sent to inspect North Korea's seven declared nuclear facilities were not permitted to carry out full investigations.

The United States drafted a resolution last week urging North Korea to allow the IAEA to complete the probe.

The document, which called for further action if needed, could be a step toward sanctions .

South Korea President Kim Young-sam took a conciliatory line Tuesday and a leading Northern diplomat said his side would not be the first to fight.

"Through consultation and dialogue I believe we can solve this problem smoothly," Kim said at a news conference near the end of a trip to China.

A senior North Korean ambassador answered with an emphatic "no" Tuesday when asked about the possibility of the North attacking the South.

"We are defensive only," ambassador to Thailand Li Do Sop said during a news conference in Bangkok."We have built many things. We don't want to destroy anything," he said.

Moscow last week suggested both Koreas, China, Japan, the United States and Russia should hold a conference to solve the crisis. Panov said Pyongyang had not rejected Russia's proposal.