UPDATE : 2019.11.18 MON 11:27
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U.S. says it is aware of reports of N.K. missile launch

The United States is aware of reports of a missile launch from North Korea and will continue to monitor the situation, a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday ahead of the expected resumption of denuclearization negotiations with the regime.

The response comes after South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea had fired multiple unidentified projectiles into the East Sea early Wednesday (Seoul time), six days after it launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the waters.

This footage, aired by the (North) Korean Central Television on July 26, 2019, shows a short-range missile being fired from a transporter erector launcher on the Hodo Peninsula near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan the previous day.

"We are aware of reports of a missile launch from North Korea, and we will continue to monitor the situation," the spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.

Separately, a senior U.S. government official gave the same response.

The series of launches comes as Washington has sought to restart working-level talks on dismantling the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in line with an agreement reached between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday he hoped the discussions will resume "very soon."

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

Pompeo described the launches as a negotiating tactic that allowed the talks to move forward. While noting the U.S. commitment to diplomacy, the State Department urged North Korea to refrain from further "provocations."

It was not immediately known what type of projectile was fired Wednesday.

South Korea earlier said that last week's two projectiles were "a new kind of short-range ballistic missile" that each flew some 600 kilometers.

Experts saw them as the North's version of Russia's Iskander, a short-range, ground-to-ground ballistic missile known as the KN-23, which the regime previously test-fired in May.

U.N. Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from launching ballistic missiles. On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a Vietnam-based North Korean individual for his alleged involvement in the weapons program.

Trump insisted earlier Tuesday that he has a good relationship with Kim.

"My relationship with Kim Jong-un is a very good one, as I'm sure you've seen," he told reporters at the White House. "We'll see what happens. I can't tell you what's going to happen." (Yonhap)

Son Da-som  edt@koreapost.com

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