Sun, 15 Sep 2019

North Korea Fires Projectiles Hours After Calling for Talks

Voice of America
10 Sep 2019, 10:06 GMT+10

SEOUL / WASHINGTON - North Korea fired two unknown projectiles Tuesday, hours after Pyongyang said it is willing to reopen denuclearization talks with the United States.

The projectiles were fired from South Pyongan Province toward the sea off North Korea's east coast, according to a statement from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

No other details were immediately available about the apparent weapons test - North Korea's 10th such launch since early May.

Choe Son Hui, North Korea's vice foreign minister, said Monday that Pyongyang is willing to talk with the U.S. but warned that Washington needs to come up with fresh ideas or risks jeopardizing the negotiations.

"We are willing to sit face-to-face with the U.S. around late September at a time and place that we can agree on," Choe said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

But Choe said the United States has to produce an "acceptable calculation" or risk the end of the talks, apparently a statement aimed at pushing the United States toward making concessions to North Korea, such as on the economic sanctions.

"If the U.S. side fingers again the worn-out scenario which has nothing to do with the new calculation method at the DPRK-U.S. working negotiation to be held with so much effort, the DPRK-U.S. dealings may come to an end," she said, referring to North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea.

Stalled talks

Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have stalemated since a second summit in February between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi ended abruptly without a deal. Trump rejected Kim's demand for relief from the debilitating U.S. economic sanctions in return for partial denuclearization.

The two leaders agreed at a short meeting in June at the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea to restart staff level talks, but they have yet to start.

Trump was asked about the offer while speaking to reporters at the White House.

"I just saw it as I'm coming out here, that they would like to meet. We'll see what happens," Trump said. "I always say having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing."

At their first summit more than a year ago in Singapore, Trump and Kim adopted a statement calling for the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Trump returned from Singapore to Washington tweeting, "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Sleep well tonight!"

Missile tests

But nothing has occurred since then to indicate that North Korea has been dismantling its nuclear arsenal. To the contrary, a United Nations report last week said the North's development of nuclear warheads has not stopped.

North Korea has launched a series of missile tests since late July in protest of joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. Trump has dismissed the importance of the tests, but other key U.S. officials have voiced concern that the missiles could be used to attack South Korea and U.S. troops stationed there.

"We're disappointed that he is continuing to conduct these short-range tests. We wish that he would stop that. But our mission set at the State Department is very clear: to get back to the [negotiating] table," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the ABC News show This Week on Sunday.

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