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U.S. Downplays North Korea’s Missile Launches

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The United States downplayed on Tuesday North Korea’s launch of several short-range missiles and hoped to find a way to restart dialogue with Pyongyang soon, an issue it will address next week at a high-level meeting with Japan and South Korea.

After several U.S. media outlets revealed that North Korea launched those missiles this weekend and described it as a “provocation” to President Joe Biden’s administration, two official sources in the country were quick to clarify that the White House is not concerned about what happened.

“The system (they used) is not covered by U.N. Security Council resolutions,” and falls under “normal” military activities that North Korea usually carries out, said a senior U.S. official, who requested anonymity.

“We don’t think it’s in our interest to make a big deal out of this,” the official added during a telephone press briefing.

North Korea threatened last week to resume its weapons tests if South Korea and the United States did not suspend their traditional spring maneuvers, a warning it usually makes each time they occur.

The official recalled that the North Koreans “have a familiar menu of provocations when they want to send a message to a U.S. government,” but stressed that the option they have used this time is “at the lower end of that spectrum” in terms of the concern it generates.

The source advanced that the White House National Security Council is “in the final stages” of the review on the U.S. strategy toward North Korea that Biden commissioned when he came to power in January.

For this reason, Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, will receive his counterparts from Japan and South Korea in Washington late next week for a full day of talks on the relationship with Pyongyang, the official explained.

The source didn’t identify the officials who will travel to Washington but they are expected to include Shotaro Yachi, who heads the Japanese National Security Council, and Suh Hooh, National Security Advisor to the South Korean Presidency.

It will be one of the highest profile meetings in Washington since Biden came to power, and is intended to “update them on the conclusions” the White House has reached on how it should approach the relationship with the secretive Asian country.

“We want to clearly signal that we are prepared to continue to engage with North Korea,” the official said.

Dialogue between the United States and North Korea has been suspended for more than a year, following three summits between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that did not lead to any agreement on the denuclearization process.

The White House revealed this month that it has tried to contact North Korea through some channels, but has received no response.

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