North Korea fired medium-range ballistic missile

Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast

Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast

The launch Wednesday into waters off North Korea's east coast came shortly before U.S. President Donald Trump's first meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this week, raising speculation that it might have been timed to get their attention.

In what was seen as a reflection of Washington's growing frustration with Pyongyang, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said tersely in a statement: "The United States has spoken enough about North Korea".

Meantime, North Korea threatened to conduct more missile testings in response to the two-month-long Foal Eagle exercise between the US and South Korea, which will last through April.

A US statement said initial assessments indicate the type of missile was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile.

A senior U.S. White House official said Trump wanted to work with China and described the discussions over North Korea as a test for the U.S. When conducting nuclear and missiles tests in recent years, it has cited what it calls increasing USA military threats.

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The United States believes the projectile was likely a ballistic missile, according to a USA official.

"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated, but they definitely hate to be ignored", Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said after Wednesday's launch. While submarines are also a stealthy way to do that, North Korea doesn't have enough of them.

South Korea's foreign ministry strongly condemned the launch, which it said represented a "threat to peace and stability of the whole world".

"US Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security", the military command in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region said.

China is North Korea's sole major diplomatic friend and a key trading partner that supplies the isolated state with much of its hard currency in the face of stringent global sanctions. Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental US within a few years.

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Dr Go Myong Hyun of the Asan Institute of Policy Studies said yesterday's missile launch was a "gentle reminder" that the North should be taken seriously and not something Mr Trump can use as a bargaining chip.

Trump wants China to do more to exert its economic influence over unpredictable Pyongyang to restrain its nuclear and missile programs. "We need to balance the interest of each side".

The North is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can hit the United States and its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to test-launch one at any time.

The missile fired from land in the area of the eastern coastal city of Sinpo on Wednesday morning flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles), according to a South Korean military statement.

North Korea often responds to the drills with its own military training and harsh rhetoric. Earlier in March, it fired four missiles towards Japan, some of which came as close as 300 km (190 miles) to its coast.

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