North Korea fired two short-range projectiles into the sea early Tuesday, South Korean media reported, just hours after the reclusive nation said it was ready for new talks with the US on its nuclear weapons programme.
The projectiles were launched at 6:53 (2153 GMT Monday) and 7:12 towards the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, from South Pyongan province, news agency Yonhap reported, citing the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The JCS said the projectiles both flew around 330 kilometres, but information on their top speed and exact type was still being investigated.
Seoul's ‘military is monitoring the situation in the case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,’ the JCS said, calling on Pyongyang to ‘instantly stop such acts that heighten tensions.’ The launches came hours after North Korea's deputy foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, said Pyongyang was ready for new talks on its nuclear weapons programme.
‘We are willing to sit with the US for comprehensive discussion of the issues we have so far addressed, at a time and place to be agreed in late September,’ Choe was quoted by North Korean state news agency KCNA as saying.
When asked about the statement, US President Donald Trump called it ‘interesting,’ adding, ‘we'll see what happens.’ Trump has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times to negotiate North Korea's denuclearization.
North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, and economic sanctions placed upon it by the UN and US, have previously been discussed.
Choe said that her government expects new proposals from the US, with which Pyongyang must be satisfied before talks can go ahead.
Should the US ‘fiddle around again with the worn-out scenario,’ it could be the end of bilateral relations, Choe said.
Kim and Trump met on the military demarcation line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea at the end of June and agreed to resume working-level negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
That meeting came after a second summit between the pair, in Vietnam in February, broke up early when the sides failed to make progress on a deal made in Singapore last year.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday told American broadcaster ABC that his government hoped for talks with North Korea ‘in the coming days or maybe weeks.’ For that to happen, the US must make a ‘brave decision’ by the end of the year, according to conditions imposed by Kim after the failed summit in Vietnam.
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