SKorean military: NKorea's latest launches were missiles

Abe wants to meet Kim without conditions

"Kim Jong Un has given the United States until the end of the year to rethink its approach", he said.

The North's Foreign Ministry called those launches "regular and self-defensive", state-run media reported Wednesday.

In Monday's telephone talks, the two leaders coordinated responses to North Korea's launching on Saturday of several short-range projectiles from around Wonsan, a city on North Korea's east coast.

Projectiles were fired from a medium-range missile base in the Sino-ri area, northeast of Pyongyang, at around 4.30pm local time, South Korea's Joint Chiefs said, according to Seoul-based Yonhap news agency.

Kim Dong-yup, professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University, told Sputnik that North Korea might have launched Scud C and Scud B missiles, though he later expressed his doubts. North Korea also ridiculed South Korea for criticizing those launches.

North Korea last conducted a major missile test in November 2017 when it flight-tested the Hwasong-15, which demonstrated the potential capability to reach deep into the US mainland.

Both Trump and Moon said the latest missile tests were not helpful but suggested they would not scupper dialogue.

He said the weapons were smaller, short-range missiles, but added: "Nobody's happy about it". "But I don't think they're ready to negotiate", he told reporters.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump communicated with one another and separately expressed reserved criticism toward the act.

President Moon Jae-in (right) talks to a reporter during an interview with KBS at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Thursday.

Japan's defence ministry said it had not detected any ballistic missile in Japanese territorial waters or exclusive economic zone and it saw no direct impact on Japan's security.

Some analysts have said that if North Korea returns to testing the kind of longer-range banned ballistic weapons that it fired in unusually large numbers in 2017 - when many feared a Washington-Pyongyang standoff could end in war - it may signal that a frustrated North Korea is turning away from diplomacy.

North Korea has effectively pulled back from engagement with Washington since the summit, which fell apart without any agreement on dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programme. It did not immediately release further details.

Saturday's launch - the first missile test North Korea had conducted since it started engaging global leaders in a "charm offensive" unleashed at the start of 2018 - involved a combination of rockets from a tactical, multiple launch system, as well as a short-range ballistic missile. Then the US revealed that it seized a North Korean cargo ship, used to export coal in violation of economic sanctions.

The launches were seen as Pyongyang's brushback pitch toward Washington over deadlocked nuclear negotiations as they continue to struggle with mismatched demands in sanctions relief and disarmament.

It was a "long-range strike" drill, the official Korean Central News Agency said, without specifying what kind of weapon was sacked and avoiding the words missile, rocket or projectile. The country is barred from ballistic missile launches under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims and suspects North Korea's involvement in many more disappearances.

"Trump wants to keep relations with Kim", it said, "but he would also not want to appear weak or foolish in the face of repeated provocations".

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