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UPDATE 1-ECB replaces North Korea in euro zone bond market spotlight

* Impact of North Korea tensions on bonds fades for now

* Focus turns to Thursday's ECB meeting

* Euro strength seen complicating exit from QE

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields http://tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr (Writes through)

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Euro zone government bond yields were little changed on Tuesday as attention shifted from tensions over North Korea to an approaching European Central Bank meeting that could shed light on the timing for an unwinding of massive monetary stimulus.

The renewed tensions over North Korea have bolstered demand for safe bonds in recent weeks, with a nuclear test at the weekend lending further support to fixed income on Monday .

But the impact from the latest test has proved limited.

That in part, say analysts, suggests markets see the chances of a military conflict as low. It also reflects some caution against piling into bonds heavily before Thursday's ECB meeting.

"The ECB meeting is still the key risk event for the week and the impact of geopolitics is fading," said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann.

"A consensus has settled on the view that the ECB will indicate the exit is coming at some point but refrain from giving details."

Having shot up in the wake of comments by ECB chief Mario Draghi in late June that were seen paving the way for "tapering", government bond yields have headed back down.

In Germany, the bloc's biggest economy and its benchmark bond issuer, 10-year bond yields were flat on the day at 0.37 percent on Tuesday and about 22 bps below 18-month highs set in July.

The pull-back in bond yields has been aided by the euro, which hit 2-1/2 year highs above $1.20 a week ago.

A strengthening in the currency, which dampens inflation by lowering the cost of imported goods, complicates the ECB's exit from quantitative easing.

Minutes from the ECB's July meeting reflected concern about currency strength -- a worry voiced again by some policymakers last week, raising the chances that asset purchases will be phased out only slowly.

The euro trade-weighted index is up almost 5 percent this year, and has added just over 1 percent since the ECB's July meeting.

"Strength in the currency will have downward pressure on the ECB's inflation forecasts through to 2019, which should prevent any hawkish tone this week," said Patrick O'Donnell, an investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management.

The ECB is still expected to start winding down its stimulus early next year, given a stronger economic outlook and a scarcity of eligible bonds for the programme.

Data released on Monday showed the ECB bought fewer German bonds in August than in any month since the start of the stimulus programme, suggesting it was holding back to avoid running out of debt to buy.

Elsewhere, Austria sold 1.2 billion euros of long-dated debt on Tuesday.

Bond supply across the bloc picks up this week after a summer lull and is expected to put upward pressure on yields.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.bi z / c m s / ? p a g e I d = l i v e m a r k e t s

(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Gareth Jones)