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China, Japan, S. Korea warn North Korea over atomic test

BEIJING -- China, Japan and South Korea warned North Korea Sunday they will not tolerate further nuclear tests, the South Korean president said, amid fears that Pyongyang is preparing a third atomic blast.

Lee Myung-bak made the remark after talks in Beijing with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda that also saw the trio decide to start free-trade area negotiations before the end of this year.

“Our three countries agreed that we will not accept further nuclear tests or further provocations from North Korea,” Lee told reporters after meeting with his two counterparts for 90 minutes.

The Northeast Asian leaders had been expected to put Pyongyang's nuclear and rocket programs high on the agenda for Sunday's summit.

Fears of a third North Korean nuclear test have grown after a failed rocket launch by Pyongyang last month that the United States and its allies said was a disguised ballistic missile test banned under U.N. resolutions.

Satellite photos have recently shown work in progress at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

Noda called on the three countries to strengthen co-operation in order to “further prevent provocations” by North Korea in future.

Wen warned earlier Sunday that the region faced many “unstable” factors that made the situation hard to predict.

“The various parties need to use their wisdom, keep patient, and display goodwill to the greatest extent so as to ease confrontation and return to the right track of dialogue and negotiations,” the Chinese premier said.

China, long the North's key ally, has been an advocate of seeking to put a stop to the isolated regime's nuclear ambitions via multilateral talks.

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