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North Korea fires more projectiles after skipping Pompeo talks

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yy (L) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 1, 2019. (Zhang Keren/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire/Zuma Press/TNS)
August 02, 2019

North Korea fired off more unidentified projectiles into its eastern sea, South Korea said, after the country skipped a chance at talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The projectiles were launched early Friday from the coastal area of Yonghung, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, near where two short-range ballistic missiles were launched Wednesday. The tests began shortly before 3 a.m. local time, the third such provocation in eight days.

“We are monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,” the Joint Chiefs said. Japan said the launches didn’t enter its exclusive economic zone and had no effect on national security.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is escalating weapons tests to signal frustration with the U.S. after more than a year of dramatic, but largely fruitless nuclear talks with President Donald Trump. The two sides still haven’t resumed a working-level dialogue announced during a historic June 30 meeting at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and Kim held back senior envoys from a regional conference attended by Pompeo this week.

Friday’s event represents North Korea’s fifth such round of launches since he broke a 17-month freeze on major weapons tests in May. The Trump administration has shown a desire to keep the tests from disrupting talks, emphasizing that Kim has still kept his pledge not to detonate nuclear bombs or test larger missiles that could deliver them to the U.S. mainland.

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“I think it’s very much under control,” Trump told reporters when asked about the launch en route to campaign event. “Very much under control.”

On Thursday, Pompeo acknowledged that he wouldn’t meet North Korean representatives at Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Bangkok, where he was accompanied by U.S. nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun. North Korea sent its local ambassador to the event, its lowest-level delegation in a decade.

“We stand ready to continue our diplomatic conversation with the North Koreans,” Pompeo said. “Looks like I’m not going to have an opportunity to do that while I’m here in Bangkok.”

Even short-range ballistic missile launches violate United Nations sanctions and threaten American troops in South Korea. France, Germany and the U.K. condemned the violations in statement Thursday at the U.N., reaffirming the need to maintain trade restrictions on the country.

“Serious efforts by North Korea to reengage diplomatically and make progress on denuclearization are the best way to guarantee security and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as a brighter future for the people of North Korea,” the countries said.

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(Josh Wingrove contributed to this report.)

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© 2019 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.