A majority of countries on a U.N.-mandated body is urging the U.N. General Assembly to consider launching multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament, in a process boycotted by the world's nuclear-armed powers.

Thai ambassador Thani Thongthakdi, who chaired the Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament, hailed a "strong signal" but said many countries would have preferred consensus among voting countries.

The panel voted 68 to 22, with 13 abstentions, Friday on a broad-ranging text that among other things recommends that the General Assembly take up efforts toward launching multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament at its next meeting.

Nuclear-armed powers including Russia, China and the United States have rejected the process.

Japan, which is sensitive about nuclear issues after experiencing two atomic bomb strikes in World War II, abstained from the vote.