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UN's Ban hopes N. Korea will halt missile tests

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced hope Sunday that North Korea will avoid future missile tests, after the Stalinist state fired three short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan.

"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 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. It carried out its latest launches on Saturday.

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.

Ban added that he hoped Russia would "use its contacts to lower the tensions and strengthen dialogue with North Korea."

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.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130519/uns-ban-hopes-n-korea-will-halt-missile-tests