Foreign ministers from Group of Eight countries on Friday condemned North Korea's nuclear and missile tests and urged the country to return to the negotiating table.

After its nuclear explosion last month, the United Nations slapped sanctions on Pyongyang.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the nuclear tests" in May, and the April launch using ballistic missile technology, "which constitute a threat to regional peace and stability," the G-8 foreign ministers said in a statement during their meeting in Italy.

They welcomed the U.N. Security Council resolution calling on all 192 U.N. members to inspect North Korean vessels on the high seas, "if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo" contains banned weapons or material to make them, and if approval is given by the country whose flag the ship sails under.

The foreign ministers urged Pyongyang to "fulfill its obligations under relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs as well as ballistic missile programs."

The ministers called on North Korea "not to conduct further destabilizing actions" and to return to six-nation disarmament talks.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said during a news conference that the tests conducted in April and May are "a challenge to the peace and the stability of the international community, and this is something that we cannot abide by."