Russia's Putin, Japan's Abe call for talks, calm with North Korea

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Russian President Putin shakes hands with Japanese PM Abe during meeting at Kremlin in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called on North Korea and other countries to avoid behaviour or rhetoric that could increase tensions around Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow after holding talks, Putin and Abe said they had agreed to cooperate closely to try to help defuse tensions around the secretive Asian state and that both wanted to see a resumption of six-party international talks with North Korea.

"In my opinion, and in the opinion of the prime minister, the situation on the Korean peninsula has unfortunately got a lot worse," said Putin.

"We call on all governments involved in regional matters to refrain from using belligerent rhetoric and to strive for peaceful constructive dialogue."

North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat is a major security challenge confronting U.S. President Donald Trump, who has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile, a capability experts say Pyongyang could have some time after 2020.

Abe told the same news conference that he wanted Pyongyang to refrain from taking any actions that could be perceived as provocative by other countries.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk/Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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