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North Korea test fires two ballistic missiles

PYONGYANG:  North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, the latest in a series of launches to protest US-South Korea joint military drills.

According to South Korea’s military, the missiles were fired early on Saturday from near North Korea’s northeastern city of Hamhung.

“Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches while maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korean military’s joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.

A US official said at least one projectile was launched and that it appeared to be similar to previous short-range missiles fired by Pyongyang.

It was the fifth round of launches in two weeks, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un labelling them a “solemn warning” over the joint military exercises that began on Monday.

Seoul’s presidential office said the tests were likely aimed at verifying the reliability of the North’s newly developed weapons and also demonstrating displeasure over the allied drills.

North Korea did not immediately comment on the latest launches.

Saturday’s tests came a few hours after US President Donald Trump said he had received a “very beautiful letter” from Kim and reiterated that he wasn’t bothered by the recent flurry of short-range weapons launched.

“I’ll say it again. There have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-range. No ballistic missile tests. No long-range missiles,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

North Korea’s recent tests have dampened the optimism that followed the third and latest meeting between Trump and Kim on June 30 at the inter-Korean border.