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Russia slams new sanctions on Iran

MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry harshly criticized new U.S. sanctions on Iran, calling them “undisguised blackmail” and warning that relations between Washington and Moscow will suffer if Russian companies are affected.

The U.S. Congress on Aug. 1 slapped sanctions on Iran’s energy, shipping and financial industries as part of an effort to pressure Tehran over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The new sanctions would hit foreign companies that mine uranium with Iran or help it export oil by providing tankers, insurance or banking services.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Monday in a statement that while Russia supports U.N. sanctions, it opposes U.S. efforts to spread its legislation throughout the world and “rejects methods of undisguised blackmail used by the U.S. against the companies and banks of other countries.”

JAPAN

Japan, N. Korea to resume talks

TOKYO — Japan and North Korea are set to hold talks this month over the repatriation of the remains of Japanese left behind after the occupation of the Korean peninsula, a news report said Monday.

The Kyodo news agency said the two countries, which have no diplomatic ties and frosty relations, were in final discussions about holding formal talks in late August, in what would be the first dialogue on the sensitive topic in four years.

Japan occupied the Korean peninsula from 1910 until 1945, and about 34,600 Japanese died in what is now North Korea after Soviet troops entered at the end of World War II, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

The remains of about 13,000 Japanese have been repatriated, but around 21,000 others are believed to be buried in the North.

Citing Japanese government sources, Kyodo said the talks between the two governments, which were last held in August 2008, were likely to take place in a third country, possibly China.

From wire dispatches and staff reports