North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Saturday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a series of launches in recent weeks amid stalled denuclearisation talks.
Saturday’s launch was the seventh by North Korea since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the inter-Korean border in June. The launches have complicated attempts to restart talks between U.S. and North Korean negotiators over the future of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
The two leaders agreed in June to restart working-level negotiations but the United States has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts to get the talks going again. The process has been stalled since an unsuccessful second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February.
Trump said earlier this month Kim told him he was ready to resume talks on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and would stop missile testing as soon as U.S.-South Korea military exercises ended.
However, while the joint military drills are over, North Korea’s continued launches caused “strong concern”, South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) said on Saturday.
Trump said after the latest launches the United States has a good relationship with North Korea. “Kim Jong Un has been … pretty straight with me,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
North Korea has repeatedly criticised the mostly computer- simulated drills in recent weeks, as well as South Korea’s import of high-tech weapons such as F-35 stealth jets and the U.S. testing of its intermediate-range cruise missile as threatening and hindering dialogue.
North Korea’s top diplomat called U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “diehard toxin” on Friday, saying: “We are ready for both dialogue and standoff.”
The remarks came after U.S. envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun was in Seoul this week to discuss ways to get negotiations back on track.German activists stage anti-racism protest ahead of key state polls