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Blinken condemns North Korean missile launches amid signs of additional provocations

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Mukthar Tileuberdi at the State Department in Washington, May 20. Blinken condemned North Korea's recent missile launches, Tuesday. Reuters-Yonhap
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Mukthar Tileuberdi at the State Department in Washington, May 20. Blinken condemned North Korea's recent missile launches, Tuesday. Reuters-Yonhap

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned North Korea's recent missile launches, a department spokesperson said Tuesday, amid suspicions that the recalcitrant country may stage another provocation, possibly a nuclear weapon test.

North Korea has staged 16 missile tests this year that included at least three of alleged intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Blinken and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong condemned the missile launches as destabilizing provocations in a meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday (local time).

"The secretary and foreign minister expressed their concerns around ongoing developments in the region, including the DPRK's continued destabilizing provocations, and committed to continue working closely with partners and allies to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific and to strengthen the resiliency, economic opportunity, and freedom for the Pacific Island region," department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press release.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

The Blinken-Wong meeting was held on the sidelines of the Quad leaders' summit that was attended by U.S. President Joe Biden and his counterparts from Australia, Japan and India.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had warned of a possible nuclear weapon test by North Korea during Biden's just concluded trip to Asia that earlier took him to Seoul on a three-day visit.

"Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility that there will be either a further missile test, including long range missile test, or a nuclear test or frankly both in the days leading into, on or after the president's trip to the region," Sullivan said before Biden embarked on his first Asia trip Friday.

After their bilateral summit in Seoul, Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol reaffirmed their commitment to engage North Korea in dialogue, while also agreeing to expand their countries' joint deterrence and defense against North Korea.

Pyongyang has avoided denuclearization negotiations with the U.S. since late 2019. It has also remained unresponsive to U.S. overtures for talks since Biden took office in January 2021. (Yonhap)



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