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Japan Pushes For U.N. Vote On N. Korea

Japan on Saturday urged the United Nations to vote "as soon as possible" on a resolution it sponsored to impose sanctions on North Korea for its missile tests, but warned it would not compromise on its stern wording.

Japan said behind-the-scenes negotiations about the measure, particularly with China and Russia, are positive and that the resolution already has backing from more than half the U.N. Security Council members.

"The others are having positive discussions," Senior Vice Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said at a Tokyo news conference. "It is strongly expected that the Security Council will put it to vote as soon as possible...The timing is very important."

Earlier in the day, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso discounted opposition to the resolution from veto-wielding China and Russia, two of North Korea's traditional allies, by saying Tokyo would not compromise over the sanctions.

"Japan will not give in. It definitely must be a resolution containing sanctions," Aso was quoted by Kyodo News agency as saying during a speech in Osaka. Japan "will not back off from the resolution. We will hold on until the end," he said.

Over Chinese and Russian objections, Japan introduced a draft Security Council resolution on Friday that would impose sanctions on North Korea for its series of rocket test-launches and also order a halt to its development of ballistic missiles.

Backed by the United States, Britain and France, the resolution condemns the launches that the North conducted Wednesday despite international warnings against the move.

The resolution risked a showdown among Japan, China and Russia, which have said they oppose all but a mild council statement that would chastise the North for the missile tests.

Supporters of the resolution decided at a meeting Friday afternoon not to call for a vote over the weekend after some council members asked for more time to consider the resolution.

The draft introduced Friday was tougher than previous versions.

It would bar nations from procuring missiles or missile related "items, material goods and technology" from North Korea, or transferring financial resources connected to the North's program. The North would also be barred from acquiring items that could be used to build missiles.

China and Russia fear Security Council sanctions will further isolate North Korea and spoil any chance of resuming six-party talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear program.

They could veto or abstain on the resolution. But even abstentions from the two nations risks weakening the message to Pyongyang.

North Korea has said U.N. sanctions would be tantamount to a declaration of war.