N. Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

A North Korean women's hockey player holds a can of Coca Cola while chatting with her teammate during the game between South Korea and Slovenia at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Kwandong Hockey Ce

North Korea on Wednesday risked provoking the United States and its allies further by conducting a missile test, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and U.S. Pacific Command.

The missile landed in the Sea of Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.

Japan, together with the US and South Korea, tightened sanctions in December 2016, following North Korea's nuclear and missile tests. "We have no further comment", he said in a statement.

The firing was also made as the US and South Korea continue to carry out their annual military drills, which North Korea reportedly sees as practice for an invasion.

It was not clear if Wednesday's launch was deliberately timed to coincide with Thursday's summit between China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida, where North Korea is expected to be a prime topic of discussions.

The latest launch comes ahead of a summit meeting between United States president Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping, in which Trump is expected to discuss how to rein in North Korea's nuclear program.

Pyongyang tested a new type of medium- to long-range ballistic missile in February, which it later said was an upgraded, extended-range version of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

This year, North Korea officials, including young leader Kim Jong Un, have repeatedly indicated an ICBM test, or something similar, could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding president and celebrated annually as "the Day of the Sun".

Tillerson also might stop making routine statements after every North Korean provocation or missile launch, Bong said.

But the launch is thought to be a warning shot and did not pose a threat to American troops, the U.S. military confirmed. The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts later this week, Cossa said. North Korea attempted to fire an unidentified ballistic missile towards the end of March; however, the missile exploded seconds after launch.

The South Korean women's football team arrived in Pyongyang on Monday for an official game in the North Korean capital later this week.

Earlier this week the US President warned: "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will".

The launch comes just ahead of a summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping this week where adding pressure on the North to drop its arms development will take centre stage.

By demonstrating a capacity to launch a salvo of missiles from different sites, North Korea could neutralize the ability of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. "But if some weapons were well-hidden and not destroyed, or if the North Koreans could use them before they were destroyed, then they would probably fall on South Korea, which is extremely worrying".

The two leaders agreed to stay in close communication to enhance cooperation on the North Korea issue and other regional issues of mutual interest, the White House said.

Once deployed, the new missile will enhance South Korea's deterrence capabilities in the face of North Korea's expanding arsenal of missiles and nuclear weapons, as well as its massive conventional force.

Abe told reporters at his official residence he was watching to see how China would respond to Pyongyang after Xi meets Trump at the USA leader's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

It said on Thursday the new punitive measures were in response to actions that posed "a grave threat to global peace and security in the region and beyond".

In Tokyo, Abe said Trump had reaffirmed that all options are available in dealing with North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

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