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North Korea launches missile ahead of South Korea-Japan summit

The third missile test this week comes as the leaders of Japan and South Korea prepare for their first summit in years.

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters just hours before South Korea’s president was due to fly to Japan for the first summit between the two countries in years, highlighting the situation in nuclear-armed North Korea as a major concern. point of concern.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said Pyongyang had launched an apparently banned intercontinental ballistic missile off the east coast.

Japan also discovered the missile and the Coast Guard warned ships to be vigilant for dropped objects. Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that the missile flew about 1,000 km (621 mi) and reached a maximum altitude of 6,000 km (3,728 mi) over a 70-minute period, citing the Defense Ministry.

North Korea has staged three missile launches this week alone during large-scale military exercises between South Korea and the United States, which Pyongyang sees as hostile and rehearsal for an invasion.

The latest launch also comes hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet in Tokyo for the first bilateral summit in 12 years.

Both South Korea and Japan are increasing defense spending and joint military exercises, which Yoon says are essential for regional and global stability.

“There is an increasing need for Korea and Japan to work together at this time of polycrisis with increasing North Korean nuclear and missile threats,” Yoon said in a written interview with the media ahead of his trip.

This week, Pyongyang has already fired cruise missiles from a submarine and sent short-range ballistic missiles over its territory and towards an eastern naval target, after Leader Kim Jong-un ordered his army to stand ready to repel what he called “frantic war preparations”. by North Korea’s opponents.

The US and South Korea began so-called Freedom Shield exercises on Monday, including field exercises and computer simulations. They close on March 23.

North Korea fired a record number of missiles last year, justifying the development of weapons as necessary for self-defense.