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(LEAD) S. Korea raps N. Korea for test-launching ballistic missiles

All Headlines 12:33 June 22, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with South Korean envoy's remarks in first 8 paras; CHANGES headline)
By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, June 22 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean nuclear envoy on Wednesday criticized North Korea during a security forum in Beijing for Pyongyang's latest test launch of two intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), a diplomatic source who also attended the forum said.

South Korean defense officials said North Korea test-fired two mid-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea earlier on Wednesday in the North's latest violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology.

The Wednesday tests come as North Korea sent its nuclear envoy, Choe Son-hui, deputy director for North American affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, to Beijing to attend a security forum that also brings together nuclear envoys from nations involved in long-stalled nuclear negotiations with the North.

Among those attending the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), which began its two-day run on Wednesday, are Ambassador Sung Kim, a top U.S. envoy on North Korea policy; Kim Gunn, South Korea's deputy chief nuclear envoy; and Wu Dawei, China's chief nuclear envoy.

During the closed-door forum also attended by North Korean diplomats, the South Korean representative pointedly criticized North Korea for launching the IRBMs, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

The South Korean envoy also called for North Korea to abide by U.N. resolutions and took steps for denuclearization, according to the source.

The North Korean envoy, Choe, was asked by reporters about the North's latest missile tests while she was entering the forum. But she did not respond to the questions.

The NEACD gathering in the Chinese capital comes a day after the U.S. envoy warned North Korea against launching a ballistic missile.

"North Korea should not be engaged in any activities in violation of clear U.N. Security Council obligations and commitments," Kim told reporters at the Beijing airport.

The nuclear envoys from the U.S. and South Korea have ruled out holding a bilateral meeting with Choe on the sidelines of the forum.

North Korea, which conducted its fourth nuclear test in January this year, did not attend the NEACD in 2014 and 2015.

The six-party talks were last held in late 2008. Diplomatic efforts to resume the negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions have produced few results, as the North has shown no signs of giving up its nuclear weapons program.


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