US still opens to talks with North Korea after newest missile test, says Trump

US President Donald Trump on August 1 played down what appeared to be North Korea’s third missile launch in just over week, saying they would not affect his willingness to negotiate with Pyongyang.

US still opens to talks with North Korea after newest missile test, says Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

South Korea’s military said unidentified short-range projectiles were fired at 2:59 am and 3:23 am local time on Aug 2 from North Korea’s South Hamgyong Province into the East Sea.

A official said US intelligence had detected at least one, and possibly multiple projectiles, that did not pose a threat to North America. Other US officials said initial information indicated the activity was similar to two other short-range missile tests by Pyongyang in the past eight days.

President Trump, who has been hoping to revive denuclearization talks with North Korea, played down the launches, which have come in spite of his June 30 meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at which they agreed to revive stalled talks.

Asked at the White House before setting off for a campaign trip to Ohio if he thought Kim was testing him, Trump said the launches did not violate the North Korean leader’s promises to him.

“I think it’s very much under control, very much under control,” he told reporters.

They were “short-range missiles,” Trump said. “We never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We’ll see what happens. But these are short-range missiles. They are very standard.”

Asked if he could still negotiate with Kim, he replied: “Oh, sure, sure. Because these are short-range missiles. We never discussed that. We discussed nuclear. What we talked about is nuclear. Those are short-range missiles. Sure, and a lot of other countries test that kind of missile also.”

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, only days after it launched two similar missiles on July 25.

“We are monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted the country’s joint chiefs of staff as saying.

Japan’s Ministry of Defence said on Friday no immediate impact was seen on the nation’s security after the new North Korean launch.


Earlier on Aug 1, US national security adviser John Bolton told Fox Business Network that the launches since last week did not violate Kim’s pledge not to test long-range missiles or nuclear bombs. However, he added: “You have to ask when the real diplomacy is going to begin, when the working-level discussions on denuclearization will begin.”

“We’ve been waiting to hear since June 30,” he told the network. “We’re ready for working-level negotiations. The president’s ready, when the time is right, for another summit. Let’s hear from North Korea.”

A summit between two leaders in Vietnam in February collapsed after the two sides failed to reconcile differences between US demands for North Korea’s complete denuclearization and North Korean demands for sanctions relief.

Bolton said South Korea and Japan were concerned by the recent launches, “because they’re within range, we think, of this particular missile.” He made no mention of the tens of thousands of US troops based in both countries.

The North Korean launches have appeared intended to put pressure on South Korea and the US to stop planned military exercises this month and offer other concessions.

North Korea has said the planned military drills could derail dialogue and has also warned of a possible end to its freeze on nuclear and long-range missile tests in place since 2017, which Trump has repeatedly held up as evidence of the success of more than a year of engagement with Kim.

Despite the setbacks, Trump has continued to hail his good relationship with Kim, and some analysts believe Pyongyang will have been emboldened to press more aggressively for US concessions given the US leader’s eagerness to hold up his North Korea policy as a success in his 2020 re-election bid.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Thailand on Thursday he hoped talks would start soon, though he “regretted” that a highly anticipated meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho would not take place in Bangkok this week.

Ri canceled a trip to the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-52) in Bangkok that Pompeo is attending.

“We stand ready to continue our diplomatic conversation,” Pompeo said in Bangkok, adding that he was optimistic Kim would deploy his team for working-level talks “before too long.”

At the United Nations on Thursday, three nations Britain, France and Germany called on North Korea to engage in “meaningful” talks with the United States and said international sanctions needed to be fully enforced until Pyongyang dismantled its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Their statement came after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting to discuss the previous North Korean launches./.


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