United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spo' />

New Zealand is "in the loop" in high-level efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to Foreign Minister Winston Peters just hours after Pyongyang said on Monday it had carried out a nuclear test.

"She called to ensure that we, being part of the five-plus-five talks in Malaysia, that we were in the loop as to what possible measures should be, any suggestions we might have," Mr Peters said yesterday.

" New Zealand will do its best to support all calls to deter North Korea going down this path."

New Zealand became part of the "five-plus-five" group in July at an Asean regional forum in Kuala Lumpur that included South Korea, the US, Russia, Japan and China (five of the countries in the stalled six-nation talks with North Korea on the nuclear issue) plus Australia, Canada and Malaysia. Indonesia and New Zealand were reportedly added at China's invitation.

Mr Peters said he had written to the North Korean and Chinese Foreign Ministers at the weekend, urging the North Koreans not to develop nuclear weapons and calling on China to dissuade its neighbour from doing so.

New Zealand established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2001 and has given the impoverished nation almost $8 million in humanitarian aid.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said a nuclearised North Korea was incredibly destabilising for the region.

"It is a huge issue," she said, adding she believed the UN Security Council would act and any such package it came up with New Zealand would support.