North Korea launches two short-range missiles
SEOUL : North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea yesterday, complicating efforts to resume stalled nuclear talks with Washington and signalling its anger over planned US-South Korea joint military exercises.
It was Pyongyang's first missile test since an impromptu meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month that produced an agreement to resume a working-level denuclearisation dialogue.
But those talks have yet to begin, and North Korea warned recently they could be derailed by Washington and Seoul refusing to scrap military exercises scheduled for next month.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the two missiles were launched just after dawn from Wonsan on the east coast.
One flew more than 430km, while the other travelled 690km and appeared to be a "new type of missile", according to an official in Seoul.
"We urge the North to stop actions that do not help ease military tensions," said Ms Choi Hyun-Soo, a Defence Ministry spokesman for South Korea.
Japan's Defence Minister called the launches "extremely regrettable" but stressed that the missiles had fallen short of his country's exclusive economic zone.
Pyongyang carried out similar short-range launches in May, which Mr Trump dismissed at the time as "very standard stuff" that would have no impact on his relationship with Mr Kim.
The two leaders went on to hold an unscheduled meeting on June 30 in the Demilitarised Zone, where they agreed to pick up a nuclear dialogue that had stalled after the collapse of the second Trump-Kim summit in February.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the working-level disarmament talks would probably start in mid-July, but last week Pyongyang said they had been jeopardised by the scheduled joint military drills.
Condemning the exercises as "blatant pressure", Pyongyang even hinted it could reconsider its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing.
However, Mr Trump has repeatedly insisted that his personal relationship with Mr Kim is strong enough to keep a dialogue with North Korea on track in the face of provocations like short-range missile launches. - AFP