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(2nd LD) Cheong Wa Dae voices 'strong' concerns over N.K. missile launches

Politics 16:14 July 31, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 5,8-10)

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday expressed "strong" concerns that North Korea's latest firing of short-range ballistic missiles could hamper efforts to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier in the day, the North fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. They flew some 250 kilometers, marking the second such launch in less than a week.

Chung Eui-yong, the national security adviser, presided over an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) standing committee to discuss the North's missile firing.

"The NSC members voiced strong concerns that North Korea's launches of two short-range ballistic missiles could have a negative impact on efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula," Cheong Wa Dae said in a statement.

They also stressed the need to continue diplomatic efforts to resume the stalled negotiations for North Korea's denuclearization, citing revived momentum for dialogue following a meeting of the leaders of the two Koreas and the United States at the inter-Korean border in late June.

On Thursday, the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles from the same area into the East Sea in its first launch since May. The missiles, presumed to be the North's version of Russia's Iskander, flew some 600 kilometers.

North Korea said last week its firing was a "solemn warning" against South Korea over Seoul's planned joint military drills with the U.S. and its purchase of U.S. fighter jets.

The North's move came about one month after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a surprise meeting at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that bisects the Korean peninsula at the end of June.

They agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks, but no schedule for a resumption has yet been set.

Washington has remained upbeat about the prospects for talks, with Trump dismissing last week's missiles as "smaller ones" that many countries test.


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