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Vladimir Putin has warned that North Asia is "on the brink of a large-scale conflict" and - in an apparent rebuke to Donald Trump - suggested that dialogue is the only way forward. Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road'. Russia believes -he added- 'that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile, ' Putin, who is due to attend a summit of the BRICS nations in China next week, wrote ahead of his trip, Russian Today reported.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian meanwhile said North Korea was close to being able to launch long-range missiles.

USA heavy bombers and stealth jet fighters took part in a joint live fire drill in South Korea on Thursday, intended as a show of force against the North, Seoul said.

The UN Security Council denounced the latest missile test, unanimously demanding that Pyongyang halt its nuclear programme and "all related activities". "They are skeptical that North Korea would ever attack the United States, seeing such threats as just a bluff", Georgy Toloraya, Director of Korean Programs at the Institute of Economy at the Russian Academy of Science, wrote on 38North, a North Korea monitoring project at John Hopkins University in Maryland.

Putin's comments, first reported by Reuters and CNN, come just hours after the USA and South Korea took part in a joint mock bombing raid on the Korean peninsula.

And earlier this week Pyongyang fire a ballistic missile over Japan, apparently in response to ongoing war exercises between the US and South Korea.

Putin said he feared the peninsula was "on the verge of a major conflict" and called for all sides to sign up to a mediation program drawn up by Moscow and Beijing.

Putin's comments echoed those of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who in a Wednesday telephone call with U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson 'underscored. the need to refrain from any military steps that could have unpredictable consequences'.