North Korea fires long-range missile ahead of Japan-South Korea talks


Seoul residents watch news reports of the long-range missile launch on Thursday morning

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) just hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan will meet for a historic summit.

Japanese and South Korean officials confirmed the launch of the long-range missile on Thursday morning.

It traveled about 1,000 km (620 miles) to land in waters west of Japan.

It is the fourth missile launch since Pyongyang last week – although the other launches have been at close range.

The activity comes amid ongoing naval exercises between the United States and South Korea around the Korean Peninsula – the allies’ largest in five years. North Korea has repeatedly said it views the drills as a provocation.

The missile was fired at 07:10 (2210 GMT) from Pyongyang on North Korea’s east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense confirmed it was an ICBM type and said it flew over 6,000 km for about 70 minutes.

After Thursday’s launch, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered his country’s military to continue joint US drills as planned.

He added that Pyongyang would pay for its “reckless provocations”.

North Korea last fired an ICBM less than a month ago – an action that prompted an emergency UN meeting and condemnation from G7 countries.

ICBMs are particularly worrisome because of their long range, including in the Americas.

North Korea’s increased missile activity is expected to be high on the agenda when Yoon meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo later Thursday.

Many hope the meeting – which has been hailed as an “important step” in bringing South Korea and Japan closer together – will lead to closer security ties and military cooperation between the two countries in the face of aggression. of North Korea.

The two countries said they would convene their national security councils after Thursday’s missile launch.

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