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(LEAD) U.S. calls on N. Korea to avoid provocations following missile launch

All Headlines 03:36 April 15, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with State Department spokesperson's remarks in paras 1-4; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, April 14 (Yonhap) -- The United States calls on North Korea to avoid provocations and return to denuclearization negotiations, the State Department said Tuesday, after North Korea launched a barrage of missiles into the sea.

Earlier Tuesday, North Korea fired what appeared to be cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles in the latest in a series of weapons tests, according to South Korea's military.

"We are aware of media reports and are currently assessing the situation," a department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.

"We continue to call on North Korea to avoid provocations, abide by obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and return to sustained and substantive negotiations to do its part to achieve complete denuclearization," he added.

A senior U.S. government official said earlier that the United States was aware of reports of "projectiles" launched from North Korea.

"We continue to monitor the situation and are consulting with our allies," the official told Yonhap.

The missiles were fired on the eve of the late North Korean founder's birthday and South Korea's general elections.

The communist nation has often held massive parades and other military events to celebrate the birthday of Kim Il-sung, grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

The country has conducted multiple tests in recent weeks, apparently to boost its defense capabilities amid stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. and maintain military discipline in the fight against COVID-19.

These photos published by North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper on June 9, 2017, show the country's launch of a new surface-to-ship cruise missile. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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