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North Korea again launches short-range missiles and complicates US attempts to talk

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — North Korea appeared to have fired two short-range ballistic missiles that landed in the sea off its east coast, the latest in a series of missile launches in recent weeks, the military said.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the North Korean missiles appeared to be similar to those in recent weeks.

North Korea’s launch of a series of missiles since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met on the inter-Korean border in June complicated the attempt to resume talks between US and North Korean negotiators on the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The two leaders agreed to resume negotiations at a practical level in June, but since then the United States has so far failed to try to restart the talks.

US envoy on North Korea Stephen Begin visited Seoul last week to discuss ways to resume negotiations.

But in recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly criticized US-South Korean military exercises, which have largely relied on computer simulations, South Korea’s import of sophisticated weapons such as F-35s that are not detected by radar devices, and US testing of medium-range cruise missiles as threats and obstacles to dialogue.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho called his US counterpart Mike Pompeo on Friday a “poison poison”, saying: “We are ready for both dialogue and confrontation.”

The South Korean National Security Council has expressed “strong concern” that North Korea continues to fire missiles despite the fact that the South Korean-US joint military exercises are over. He called on North Korea to stop escalating military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The National Security Council agreed to make diplomatic efforts to bring North Korea and the United States to the negotiating table as soon as possible for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.

“We are aware of reports of a North Korean missile launch and continue to monitor the situation,” a senior administration official said. We are in close consultation with our Japanese and South Korean allies.”

Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwai said North Korea’s missile launch was a clear violation of UN resolutions and could not be ignored. The missiles fell outside the Japanese economic zone and did not pose a direct threat to Japan’s security.

North Korea appeared to have fired short-range ballistic missiles from the area around Sondok in South Hamgyong province, where there is a North Korean military airport, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The Japanese Coast Guard warned ships not to approach any wreckage.

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