UN's Ban warns of N Korea 'escalation'
20 May 2013, 11:50
Moscow - UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned on Sunday of a "dangerous escalation" after North Korea test-fired a short-range missile off its east coast, its fourth in two days, despite pleas to ease tensions.
"I hope that North Korea will refrain from such further actions," Ban told the RIA Novosti news agency in comments translated into Russian.
Ban was in Moscow following talks on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
North Korea sometimes launches short-range missiles for tests or as part of military drills.
The United States and South Korean forces had been on heightened alert for a medium-range ballistic missile test in recent weeks amid tensions triggered by North Korea's nuclear test in February.
Ban said Pyongyang should resume negotiations.
"It is time for them to resume dialogue and lower the tensions. The United Nations is willing to help," Ban was quoted as saying.
Soviet era ally
Ban added that he hoped Russia would "use its contacts to lower the tensions and strengthen dialogue with North Korea."
Speaking later through his spokesperson Martin Nesirky, Ban said he "remains concerned about provocations and tensions on the Korean Peninsula, particularly given the risks of miscalculation and dangerous escalation."
"He stands ready to help facilitate the process of peace and trust-building on the Korean Peninsula," Nesirky added in a statement.
Moscow was Pyongyang's most important ally in the Soviet era, although its influence over the nation has waned considerably in the past two decades as its financial assistance to North Korea shrinks.
Pyongyang fired a guided missile into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on Sunday afternoon, a defence ministry spokesperson told AFP without elaborating.
On Saturday, the North fired three short-range missiles off its east coast, apparently as part of a military drill.