North Korea fires projectiles, after agreeing to US talks

North Korea fires projectiles, after agreeing to US talks

North Korea carried out another projectile launch on Wednesday, the South Korean military and Japan’s Coast Guard said, a day after announcing it would hold working-level talks with the United States at the weekend.

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.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga later told reporters that two projectiles had been launched within minutes of each other and one appeared to have dropped into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

“One of them appears to have fallen into waters… inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone,” Suga said.

The first fell at 7.27 am. local time (22:27 GMT on Tuesday), he added.

The launch is the ninth since United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the heavily guarded Demilitarized 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 in a development that could potentially break months of stalemate.

Trump meets North Korea’s Kim at DMZ in landmark visit

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 collapsed without a deal.

‘Carrot and stick’

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.

In a statement released through state media, Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, said the two nations will have preliminary contact on Friday before holding working-level talks on Saturday.

She expressed optimism over the outcome of the meeting, but did not say where the talks would take place.

“It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-US relations,” Choe said in the statement, using an abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The US confirmed the talks.

“I can confirm that US and DPRK officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who is travelling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Rome.

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