Japan stepped up diplomatic efforts Friday to gain broad support for a United Nations resolution that would impose sanctions on North Korea for firing missiles, amid opposition by Russia and China.
Tokyo late Friday formally introduced a new draft of a Security Council resolution that also orders countries to "take those steps necessary" to keep the North from acquiring items that could be used for its missile program.
The draft which has the support of the United States, Britain and France is tougher than previous versions. It adds language saying that no nation will procure missiles or missile related "items, materials goods and technology" from North Korea, or transfer financial resources connected to the North's program.
Diplomats said it could be put to a vote Saturday, although a U.S. official said they might hold off voting until next week to allow more time for diplomacy to work. In particular, they want to see if China, the North's main ally, can find a solution.
Local media had earlier speculated that the new resolution would water down the threat of sanctions.
Earlier Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso met with Russia's Ambassador Alexander Losyukov to seek Moscow's support, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
The Russian envoy said he would relay the minister's message to Russian President Vladimir Putin and added that Moscow shares Tokyo's view of the need to send a clear, strong message to North Korea.
Aso later spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, who said Russia is ready to take up the issue at the upcoming G8 summit meeting.
Russia and China, which are also veto-wielding members of the Security Council, are opposed to sanctions and have warned that doing so could inflame tensions and drive the communist regime further into isolation.
In New York, Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Wang Guangya signaled Beijing's opposition to the draft, but refused to say if China would veto or abstain from a vote.
Aso also spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema by phone, the ministry said.
D'Alema expressed to Aso the Italian government's utmost worry about the "provocative decision by authorities in Pyongyang," the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Rome.
"Italy fully stands by the unanimous condemnation expressed by the European Union," it said.
The minister also met with ambassadors from eight countries which are currently non-permanent members of the Security Council, including Tanzania, Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Ghana, Qatar, Peru and Slovakia, seeking their support, the ministry said, reports AP.
The Federation Council may gather for the meeting on October 4 to consider new laws on the accession of new territories to Russia after the referenda