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Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in Rome, Italy December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that a U.S. threat to destroy North Korea in the event of a war was "a bloodthirsty tirade" and that military action against Pyongyang would be a big mistake, Russian news agencies reported.

Speaking on a visit to Rome, Lavrov strongly condemned comments made by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who earlier this week warned North Korea's leadership it would be "utterly destroyed" if war were to break out after Pyongyang test fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range.

"If someone really wants to use force to, as the U.S. representative to the United Nations put it, destroy North Korea ...then I think that is playing with fire and a big mistake," said Lavrov, the Russian news agencies reported.

He called Haley's speech on North Korea, which she made at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, "a really bloodthirsty tirade."

"We will do everything to ensure that (the use of force) doesn't happen so that the problem is decided only using peaceful and political-diplomatic means," said Lavrov.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Reuters