By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea continues to develop military capabilities that pose serious threats to the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region, a White House official said Friday.
John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, made the remark after North Korea said its leader Kim Jong-un inspected the successful static firing test of a "high-thrust solid-fuel motor" for missiles.
"Again, Mr. Kim continues to pursue military capabilities that pose a threat to the region, to the peninsula, to our allies and partners, to our national security interests," Kirby said when asked about the North's weapons development efforts.
"And that's why we are going to continue to work with Japan and South Korea. (That) is why we are continuing our force presence and our exercises and training on the peninsula and in the region. And it's why we have worked to improve our own intelligence collection capabilities in and around the Korean Peninsula," he added, speaking in a virtual press briefing.
The North Korean report of its latest weapons development test comes after Pyongyang fired 63 ballistic missiles this year, setting a new record that far exceeds its previous annual record of 25.
Kirby reiterated U.S. commitment to engaging with North Korea.
"We again restate our offer to sit down, without preconditions, with Mr. Kim," he said, referring to the North Korean leader.
"We urge him to accept that offer, again without preconditions, so that we can try to find a diplomatic path forward to the denuclearization of the peninsula," he added.
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