North Korean and US officials have both said the first talks since February could take place sometime next week. Soon after the announcement, South Korea’s military said North Korea launched “unidentified projectiles.”
North Korea and the United States announced Tuesday that they will hold working-level nuclear talks sometime next week, which would be the first such dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang since a bilateral summit in February ended without a deal.
North Korea’s state news agency said in a statement that the two sides agreed to have “preliminary contact” on October 4, and hold negotiations the next day. US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus later confirmed the talks, but did not specify an exact time or location.
After the talks were announced Tuesday evening, the South Korean military reported that “short-range projectiles” were launched Wednesday morning from the North Korean port city Wonsan.
Japan condemns launch
A Japanese government spokesperson said one of the projectiles landed in Japanese waters off of Shimane Prefecture in the country’s southwest.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan would hold a meeting of its National Security Council over a response to the launches.
“The launch of ballistic missiles violates UN Security Council resolutions. We sternly lodge a protest over the launch and strongly condemn it,” said Abe.
“We will do the utmost to protect the safety of the people and stay on high alert while coordinating with the United States and the international community,” he added.
Missiles and talks
The short-range launch would be the ninth by North Korea since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in June.
The missile tests are widely seen as a strategy by Pyongyang to show its expanded military capabilities to gain leverage ahead of any new negotiations with the US.
In September, Pyongyang said it had tested a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” system, shortly after signaling it was ready to resume talks.
Trump and Kim agreed to new nuclear negotiations at the DMZ meeting, however progress has stalled due to North Korea’s anger at joint US-South Korea military drills.
wmr/se (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)