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October 13, 2009

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N. Korea reported to have fired 5 missiles

NORTH Korea fired five short-range missiles off its east coast yesterday, news reports said, even as South Korea proposed working-level talks with its neighbor.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean government official, said North Korea test-fired two short-range missiles yesterday morning and three others yesterday afternoon from mobile launch pads.
Yonhap said the missiles were surface-to-surface KN-02 rockets with a range of up to 120 kilometers.
The reported launches were the first since North Korea conducted a barrage of seven ballistic missile tests in early July, and come despite signs it is reaching out to South Korea and the United States after months of heightened tensions over its missile and nuclear programs.
The South Korean government has reciprocated by taking steps to engage more with North Korea, but shows no signs of easing its pressure on its neighbor to disarm.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Belfast, Northern Ireland, yesterday that the American efforts to proceed with talks with North Korea on its nuclear ambitions would proceed despite the new tests.
"Our goal remains the same," she told reporters after a meeting with Northern Irish business leaders. "Our consultations with our partners and our allies continues unabated. It is unaffected by the behavior of North Korea."
Clinton was to fly later to Moscow to meet Russian leaders on nuclear-reduction and other issues.
Yonhap said North Korea had ordered a no-sail zone in areas off the country's east and west coasts from October 10 to 20 - an indication it could carry out more missile tests.
YTN television network carried a similar report, saying the missiles were fired from sites south of the country's Musudan-ri missile site on its northeast coast.
South Korea's Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Service said they could not confirm the reports.
Earlier yesterday, South Korea proposed working-level officials of the two sides meet tomorrow to discuss how to prevent floods in the Imjin River running through their heavily armed border.
However, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said that Seoul had no plan to resume high-level dialogue with North Korea.


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