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North Korea fires missiles ahead of nuclear talks with US

Jung Yeon-je, AFP | Replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile (top R) and South Korea's Nike missile (top L) are displayed at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on August 16, 2019.

North Korea carried out at least one more projectile launch on Wednesday, the South Korean military and Japanese officials said, a day after North Korea announced it will hold working-level talks with the United States at the weekend.

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South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on Wednesday morning from around Wonsan, in southeast Kangwon province, towards the sea to the east.

Japan's Coast Guard said in a statement North Korea had launched what appeared to be a missile and urged vessels to pay attention to further information and not to approach any debris.

However, Japan's chief government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said it appeared two missiles were launched within minutes of each other and that the first of them fell in waters within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ.

The first fell at 7:27 a.m. local time (2227 GMT Tuesday), Suga said.

The latest launch was North Korea's ninth since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the heavily guarded Demilitarised Zone between the two Koreas in June.

It came just a day after Pyongyang announced it had agreed with the United States to hold working-level talks on Saturday, a development that could potentially break months of stalemate.

Talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes have been stalled since the second summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.

Trump has played down North Korea's recent series of short-range launches, saying in September the United States and North Korea "didn't have an agreement on short-range missiles” and that many countries test such weapons.

"North Korea has recycled its carrot-and-stick strategy against the U.S. multiple times with great success," said Lee Sung-yoon, Professor of Korean Studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

(REUTERS)

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