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North Korea, U.S standoff on brink of ‘large-scale conflict,’ Putin warns

Click to play video: 'Vladimir Putin meets with China’s Vice Premier to discuss North Korean situation'
Vladimir Putin meets with China’s Vice Premier to discuss North Korean situation
WATCH ABOVE: Russian President Vladimir Putin met China's Vice Premier Wang Yang on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok (Sept 6). – Sep 6, 2017

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday that the standoff between North Korea and the United States was close to spilling into a large-scale conflict and said it was a mistake to try to pressure Pyongyang into halting its nuclear missile program.

Putin, due to attend a summit of the BRICS nations in China next week, said the only way to de-escalate tensions was via talks, and Sergei Lavrov, his foreign minister, said Washington not Pyongyang should take the initiative on that.

“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialog involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks),” Putin, whose country shares a border with North Korea, wrote on the Kremlin’s web site.

READ MORE: U.S. successfully tests defence system day after North Korea fires ballistic missile

“Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere.”

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WATCH: U.S. conducts missile defence test off Hawaii coast
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U.S. conducts missile defence test off Hawaii coast

The Russian leader, whose nuclear-capable bombers recently overflew the Korean Peninsula in a show of force, said the situation had deteriorated so badly that it was now “balanced on the verge of a large-scale conflict.”

Pyongyang has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and recently threatened to land missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

On Monday, North Korea, which sees joint war games between the United States and South Korea as preparations for invasion, raised the stakes by firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan.

READ MORE: Blaring sirens sound in Japan, Guam readies residents amid North Korea’s missile tests

“In Russia’s opinion the calculation that it is possible to halt North Korea’s nuclear missile programs exclusively by putting pressure on Pyongyang is erroneous and futile,” Putin wrote.

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A road map formulated by Moscow and Beijing, which would involve North Korea halting its missile program in exchange for the United States and South Korea stopping large-scale war games, was a way to reduce tensions, wrote Putin.

WATCH: North Korea releases images of latest missile launch

Click to play video: 'North Korea releases images of latest missile launch'
North Korea releases images of latest missile launch

Lavrov, addressing students in Moscow, said he felt events were building towards a war which he said would cause large numbers of casualties in Japan and South Korea if it happened.

READ MORE: North Korea likely to respond with fury after U.S. conducts bombing drill

“If we want to avoid a war the first step must be taken by the side that is the more intelligent and stronger,” said Lavrov, making clear he was referring to the United States.

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He said Russia was working behind the scenes and that Moscow knew that Washington had a back channel to Pyongyang which he said he hoped would allow the two sides to de-escalate.

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