Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Japan to seek cooperation with Russia, China over North Korea - government official


North Korea fired an unidentified projectile from a region near its west coast, South Korea's military said.

Choe Son-Hui, a senior official at the North's foreign ministry handling its USA policy, also said Saturday the North would be willing to hold talks with the United States if the conditions are right.

An undated file photo released on 24 April 2016 by North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows an "underwater test-fire of strategic submarine ballistic missile" at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

It was the country's first military provocation after new South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10.

Pacific Command, however, ruled out the test being one of a long-range missile capable of striking the U.S.

"Our military and people don't blink an eyelash at any provocative actions by the enemies and will never give up on our powerful self-defense even for the whole world", it said.

"It was an unidentified projectile that was sacked early this morning", he said. It was estimated to have flown some 700 kilometers before landing in the East Sea.

Asked about the concern, Suga emphasized to reporters that Seoul and Tokyo "have clearly confirmed that Japan and South Korea will firmly cooperate" in dealing with North Korean issues.

The White House says President Donald Trump "cannot imagine that Russia is pleased" with North Korea's latest missile test because the missile landed so close to Russian soil.

President Donald Trump opened the door this month to talks, saying he would be "honoured" to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Japanese officials, however, said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, travelling about 800 kilometres (500 miles) and reaching an altitude of 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) - a flight pattern that could indicate a new type of missile.

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Calling the behavior "absolutely unacceptable", Abe said further provocations by North Korea are expected.

The North responded by pledging to retaliate with a devastating nuclear counter-attack, a threat it has made in the past.

South Korea's National Security Office Chief Kim Kwan-jin and his US counterpart H.R. McMaster had a 25-minute phone conversation, jointly condemning Pyongyang's latest provocation.

On Saturday, the top North Korean diplomat in charge of US relations, Choe Son Hui, said in Beijing that Pyongyang would be willing to meet with the Trump administration for negotiations "if the conditions are set".

"We strongly protest against North Korea", he said.

The last launch to take place out of Kusong was the February 12, 2017, successful launch of the Pukkuksong-2 solid-fuel medium-range ballistic missile, the first launch of that specific system.

North Korea's past satellite rocket launches have been called clandestine tests of ICBM technology, but it is not believed to have tested a true intercontinental ballistic missile yet.

The missile launch comes amid claims claims from Kim Jong-Un's spokesmen that he is willing to talk to the US.

The foreign ministry said Seoul's chief negotiator on the North Korean nuclear issue also had phone talks with his USA and Japanese counterparts, Joseph Yun and Kenji Kanasugi, to share assessments on the latest missile firing and discuss how to respond to it.

These tests included the near-simultaneous firing of four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in March - a move the North said was a rehearsal for attacking US bases in Japan.

Missile experts said the hypothetical target of that drill appeared to be U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

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