UK & World News

  • 2 July 2014, 21:40

North Korea Fires Two Missiles Ahead Of Summit

North Korea has fired two missiles into the sea one day ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to South Korea.

Beijing said it noted the news, but said there was "no basis" to claims the rocket launches were in anger at Mr Xi's trip to Seoul.

They were the North's third missile tests into the Sea of Japan in less than a week.

All three tests were in violation of a United Nations ban and are expected to be high on the agenda when Mr Xi meets his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye on Thursday.

It will be Mr Park's second summit with the Chinese leader, who has notably not yet met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un since he came to power following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

A spokesman for the defence ministry in Seoul said Wednesday's launches appeared to be two "multiple-launch rockets" with a range of around 110 miles (180km).

Japan, which is currently engaged in talks with North Korea over the abduction of Japanese citizens during the Cold War, called the tests "extremely regrettable".

China and South Korea's talks will focus on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and its plans to hold a fourth nuclear test.

As North Korea's chief ally, China is widely seen as the member of the international community with the most leverage over Pyongyang.

The US and Seoul have repeatedly called on Beijing to exert more pressure on the North to give up its nuclear programme and missiles.

The test firings have been seen as military muscle flexing by the North, showing the range of its missile arsenal.

The first test on Thursday last week was hailed by Pyongyang's state media as a new "cutting-edge" guided missile, which marked a "breakthrough" in the North's military capabilities.

South Korea said the second test on Sunday was of two short-range Scud missiles with a range of around 300 miles (483km).

The South's Unification Ministry said there were a number of possible motives for the tests, ranging from a show of strength for domestic consumption to a warning to Seoul.