North Korea launches ballistic missile off east coast

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea launched a ballistic missile off its east coast around the port city of Sinpo.

It said in a statement that the missile took off at about 10:17 a.m. local time from around the city of Sinpo, where North Korea maintains submarines and 

equipment to test launch ballistic missiles from submarines. North Korea also launched other types of missiles from that area

“Our army is closely following the situation and maintaining its readiness in close cooperation with the United States in anticipation of any further possible launch,” the statement continued.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said two ballistic missiles had been detected and it was “unfortunate” that North Korea had conducted a series of missile tests in recent weeks.

The launch comes as directors of the intelligence services of the United States , South Korea and Japan are scheduled to meet in Seoul to discuss the confrontation with North Korea and other matters, Yonhap news agency said, citing a government source.

Representatives of hundreds of international companies and various militaries gathered in Seoul for the opening ceremony of the International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition

This is expected to be South Korea’s largest defense exhibition, showcasing next-generation fighters, attack helicopters, drones and other advanced weapons, as well as space missiles and designs for civilian spacecraft.

South Korea is preparing to test-launch its first spacecraft on Thursday

The missile launch comes shortly after a high-ranking US diplomat issued a new invitation to North Korea for unconditional dialogue, stressing that his country does not harbor any hostile intentions towards Pyongyang, which has recently escalated tensions between it and Washington.

“We will continue the diplomatic path with North Korea in order to take concrete steps that improve the security of the United States and our allies,” US Special Envoy for North Korea Sung Kim told reporters.

The US diplomat’s statement came after his meeting in Washington with his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, on the eve of a tripartite meeting that will bring them together on Tuesday with high-ranking Japanese diplomat Takehiro Funakoshi.

“We have no hostile intent toward North Korea and hope to meet them without conditions,” Sung Kim added

But the US diplomat stressed that allies bear “the responsibility to implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council”, in reference to the sanctions on North Korea, which its leader Kim Jong-un is trying to lift from his country.

Washington has made repeated calls to Pyongyang for dialogue and has repeatedly denied any hostile intentions towards the Kim regime, but the North Korean leader said last week that he had no reason to “believe that it (the United States) is not hostile” towards his country, stressing that the actions of the United States contradict her words in this regard.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has repeatedly announced its willingness to meet with North Korean officials anywhere, anytime and without preconditions, as part of efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, but Pyongyang has refused to do so

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