North Korea on Tuesday launched two unidentified projectiles from South Pyongan Province toward the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, hours after Pyongyang said it is willing to hold working-level talks with the United States in late September.
Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been gridlocked since a second summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.
North Korea twice launched “unidentified projectiles” in an easterly direction from South Pyongyang province, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Senior US official said, “We are aware of reports of projectiles launched from North Korea”.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation and consulting closely with our allies in the region”, he added.
Last month, North Korea fired two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea,
North Korea witnessed its seventh round of such launches since July 25 when the North broke a 17-month hiatus and started firing missiles and projectiles to test new weapons and protest the South-US joint military exercise that it had long denounced as a rehearsal for invasion.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had agreed to restart working-level dialogue during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the nuclear-armed North and South Korea in June, but those talks have yet to begin.
North’s vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, said, “We are willing to sit face-to-face with the US around late September at a time and place that we can agree on”.
Choe’s comment came after her warning in late August that North Korea’s “expectations of dialogue with the US are gradually disappearing” after Pyongyang conducted weapons tests to protest joint US-South Korean military exercises.
On Monday, Choe recalled Kim’s comments that the North would wait until the end of the year for Washington to “quit its current calculation method”.
North Korea is under heavy US and UN sanctions over its weapons programmes and has criticised Washington’s position that sanctions against the isolated regime will not be lifted until the country gives up its nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang’s latest comments on talks come after the US special envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said the North must stop blocking nuclear talks.
Biegun said, “If we are to succeed, North Korea must set aside its search for obstacles to negotiations and instead seek the opportunities for engagement while that opportunity lasts”.
“We have made clear to North Korea that we are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from them,” he said on Friday. “We are ready, but we cannot do this by ourselves”, he added.
(With agencies inputs)