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North Korea fires missiles as US envoy visits Seoul

Friday, May 10, 2019

Seoul: North Korea welcomed a US envoy's visit to Seoul by firing two missiles yesterday, the South's military said, in Pyongyang's second launch in less than a week as it seeks to up the ante in deadlocked nuclear negotiations with Washington.

It came after North Korea carried out a military drill and fired multiple projectiles on Saturday, when at least one was believed to be a short-range missile.

The North had not previously fired a missile since November 2017, shortly before a rapid diplomatic thaw eased high tensions on the peninsula and paved the way for a historic first meeting between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

But their second summit in Vietnam in February broke up without an agreement rolling back Pyongyang's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief or even a joint statement, leaving the North frustrated by the stalemate.

Yesterday's launch came hours after the US Special Representative on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, arrived in Seoul late Wednesday for talks with South Korean officials on the allies' approach towards Pyongyang, in his first visit since the Hanoi summit.

The North "fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles", Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, adding they flew eastwards for 270 and 420 kilometres (170 and 260 miles) and the South Korean and US militaries were jointly analysing them.

It earlier said the launched appeared to originate from Sino-ri in North Pyongan province, 75 kilometres northwest of Pyongyang.

One of the North's longest-running operational missile bases is in the area, which the Centre for Strategic & International Studies says houses a regiment-sized unit equipped with Nodong-1 medium-range ballistic missiles.

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