Russia laid out preconditions yesterday for any adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on North Korea, saying that it must contain no hint of force and any sanctions must be time-limited.
At a meeting with Chinese special envoy Tang Jiaxuan (
"Sanctions should not carry even a hint of any kind of forceful methods and should not be aimed against the North Korean people," Ivanov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
"We and China share the view that means of political pressure via the UN Security Council cannot be for an unlimited period, so in the event of a return by North Korea to six-party talks and progress in those talks, sanctions, if they are adopted, should automatically be canceled," Ivanov said.
The comments came as envoys from Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Japan were set to meet at the UN yesterday to consider sanctions against North Korea following its declared nuclear test.
Earlier, China and Russia raised last-minute objections to the latest US proposals, scuppering a bid by Washington to get the UN Security Council to reach a decision by Friday evening as originally planned.
Moscow and Beijing are both members of the six-way talks process aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, but they have opposed the idea of more forceful measures.
On Friday, Lavrov said that both Russia and China opposed "extreme sanctions" against North Korea.
Tang was in Moscow after holding talks in Washington earlier in the week.
Later yesterday he met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
"Our contacts on the international arena are very important for us, as is the closeness of our positions on international problems, including highly sensitive themes, one of which is the situation surrounding the Korean nuclear program," Putin said at the commencement of the talks.
Ivanov meanwhile repeated Russia's condemnation of the test.
The test "provoked unanimous condemnation from the whole international community. Put simply, it was a disgrace," Ivanov was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying.
He added that no ecological damage had been caused to Russia or China, but that this provided no reassurance for the future.
The Kommersant newspaper commented yesterday that Russia might be more cooperative with Washington after the US supported a resolution on Friday in the UN Security Council that reflected Russian concerns about the ex-Soviet state of Georgia.
"In light of the change of the American position on the Georgia question it would be logical to expect that as a reciprocal gesture, Moscow will try to persuade its Chinese colleagues to close their eyes to some contradictory [US] formulations," Kommersant said.