South Korea's foreign minister on Wednesday urged the communist North to halt apparent preparations for a missile test, saying such a move would further jeopardize international efforts to resolve its nuclear standoff.
Ban Ki-moon's comments come amid reports of an impending test launch of a long-range ballistic missile by North Korea.
"I once again urge (North Korea) that it is desirable to stop preparing for a missile launch and return to the six-nation talks immediately," Ban told reporters Wednesday, referring to the international forum aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons ambitions.
"We are concerned that if (the North) fires a missile at a time when the six-party talks remain stalled ... it may negatively affect the process of resolving the North Korea nuclear issue," he said.
North Korea's missile test would heighten security threats in Northeast Asia, which is already struggling to deal with its nuclear ambitions.
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