By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia on Monday of "cheating" on U.N. sanctions on North Korea and said Washington has "evidence of consistent and wide-ranging Russian violations."
Haley told the U.N. Security Council that while "difficult, sensitive talks" between the United States and North Korea are ongoing, it was the wrong time to start easing sanctions on Pyongyang.
"Russia must cease its violations of North Korea sanctions. It must end its concerted effort to cover up evidence of sanctions violations," she said. "Its violations are not one-offs. They are systematic."
Chinese U.N. Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu said the country implements sanctions on North Korea and warned that confronting Pyongyang would be a "dead end." He called for progress in negotiations between the United States and North Korea and urged the Security Council to remain united on the issue.
"Resorting to force will bring nothing but disastrous consequences," Ma told the council.
Russia and China suggested the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearisation.
The United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.
The Security Council has unanimously sanctioned North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council that while there had been some recent positive developments, "there continue to be signs the DPRK (North Korea)is maintaining and developing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)