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Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a “small apology” for recently testing short-range missiles, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday following two further missile launches the same morning.
Trump was elaborating on a “beautiful” three-page letter he said he’d received from Kim on Thursday, in which the North Korean leader expressed dissatisfaction about pending U.S. – ROK military exercises.
“In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong Un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over,” Trump said on Saturday.
“It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises.
“It was…also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end.”
Trump added that he looked forward to seeing Kim in the “not too distant future” and said that “a nuclear free North Korea will lead to one of the most successful countries in the world!”
Since it became clear in late July that the U.S. and South Korea would go ahead with Dongmaeng 19-2 joint exercises in August, Kim Jong Un has overseen five missile/projectile launch events – seemingly in direct response.
During one of those launch events early on Saturday morning Korean time, Kim oversaw the firing of what South Korea said were “presumed to be ballistic missiles.”
The two ballistic missiles flew around 400 km at an apogee of 48 km, a statement added, continuing that the “maximum speed was 6.1 Mach or more,” a similar distance to the those fired on Tuesday.
The Blue House said Saturday’s test likely represented an “armed demonstration in response to the ROK-U.S. command post exercise scheduled to kick off tomorrow.”
“Relevant ministers judged that the North’s launch aims at verifying the performance of its new short-range projectile which it has self-developed,” it said in a written Korean-language statement.
In mid-July Pyongyang warned that the pending U.S.-ROK exercises – which are said to involve simulations focused on stabilizing North Korea after it has been occupied – could impact promised working-level talks in the wake of Trump’s sudden meeting with Kim in late June.
Main picture: KCNA