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North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

08 April 2017

North Korea this week fired a projectile which flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles) into the East Sea, South Korea's military leadership said.

The Pacific Command staatement described the missile used as a "KN-15 medium range ballistic missile" launched from a "land-based facility".

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the launch in a statement but said the U.S. had spoken enough about North Korea and would not comment further.

The firing was also made as North Korea expressed anger over annual military drills between the United States and South Korea that North Korea sees as an invasion rehearsal.

During his first Asia tour this month, Tillerson said the USA was looking at a "new approach" against North Korea in which "all options are on the table", including military action.

The US military said it was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile which they had determined posed no threat to America. The missile fell into the sea off North Korea's eastern coast about 9 minutes later.

Last August Pyongyang also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500 kilometres towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what the North s leader Kim Jong-Un hailed as the "greatest success".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (front) stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang June 16, 2014.

Solid fuel rockets can be stored in hidden, protective bunkers and quickly deployed before they can be detected by satellites, while liquid fueled missiles usually need to be filled prior to launch, which requires time and a number of support vehicles that can more easily be targeted by an enemy preemptive attack. Trump is likely to call on North Korea's main ally to exert more pressure on Pyongyang through measures including economic sanctions.

North Korea's last four missile tests were fired from different sites.

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The South Korean government reacted by convening its National Security Council and ordering its troops to a higher state of readiness, while the Japanese government issued a strongly worded condemnation of Pyongyang's latest act of provocation.

It came after President Donald Trump threatened the United States was prepared to go it alone in bringing the North to heel if China did not step in, and ahead of a meeting between Trump and President Xi Jinping.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump vowed to "solve" the problem of North Korea with or without Chinese help.

Meantime, the spokesman for the US Pacific Command reiterated its commitment to working closely with their Japanese and Republic of Korea allies in order to maintain the security in the region.

China maintains that the nuclear issue is one between North Korea and the United States, and China is doing its part by enforcing UN sanctions against Pyongyang and calling for dialogue to resume.

South Korean officials said McMaster discussed the North's latest missile launch and the Trump-Xi summit in a call with his counterpart in Seoul, Kim Kwan-jin.

"Japan resolutely will not tolerate these repeated provocative acts by North Korea".

Asked if there could be a military response to North Korea, Mr Swift replied: "That decision would be up to the president".

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan will continue to implement its policy of bilateral talks and sanctions against North Korea, Efe news reported.

North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of Trump-Xi meeting