World, Asia - Pacific

South Korea warns North over missile tests

Seoul calls on Pyongyang to avoid escalating tensions after latest launches

Alex Jensen   | 16.08.2019
South Korea warns North over missile tests FILE PHOTO

SEOUL

South Korea on Friday called for an end to North Korea's recent provocations Friday, as Pyongyang launched two missiles and criticized the South's leader earlier in the day.

The unidentified short-range projectiles flew around 230 kilometers (142 miles) into open water, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff, marking the sixth occasion for the North to carry out such a test since late July.

The South's presidential office responded by convening an emergency security meeting, with local news agency Yonhap reporting that participating officials called on the North to end its recent series of launches or risk raising military tensions after more than a year of relative peace and dialogue.

The office also stressed the importance of an ongoing South Korea's joint military drill with the U.S., which is seen as a factor provoking North Korea.

Separately, a South Korean presidential official was cited by Yonhap as explaining that this month's joint exercise is linked to plans to transfer full military control from Washington to Seoul.

In addition, the official said it is "never desirable" to make dialogue difficult, as the North directly insulted South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Early Friday, Pyongyang's state-run KCNA news agency had carried a statement from the country's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, which denounced Moon as an "impudent guy" who "just read what was written by his juniors" when he renewed his desire for inter-Korean dialogue a day earlier.

The North's statement resolved not to hold further talks with the South, even when the allied military drill finishes later this month.

Pyongyang had previously cautioned it would pursue "a new way" if the allies held the exercise, which began last Monday for a 10-day period.

U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally announced an end to joint military drills in South Korea after meeting North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un in Vietnam last year.

This month's exercise follows a lengthy stalemate over the North's proposed denuclearization, but Trump also demonstrated tolerance for Pyongyang's short-range missile tests.

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