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North Korea

Kim Jong-un Supervised Latest Weapons Tests, North Korea Says

The report came just hours after Donald Trump said Kim Jong-un expressed a desire to continue nuclear negotiations.

Kim Jong-un supervises 10 aug missile test in north korea 110819 credit kcna.jpg_.jpg

The North Korean leader supervised the latest test launches (Picture: KCNA).

North Korea has said leader Kim Jong-un supervised test-firings of an unspecified new weapons system on Saturday.

The incident extended a streak of weapons demonstrations that are seen as an attempt to build leverage before negotiations with the United States.

The report by North Korean state media came hours after US President Donald Trump said Mr Kim had expressed a desire to re-commence nuclear negotiations after joint US-South Korea military exercises end.

Mr Trump also said his counterpart had apologised for the flurry of recent short-range ballistic launches that rattled US allies in the region.

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KCNA said Mr Kim expressed "great satisfaction" over the testing firings (Picture: KCNA).

In a separate statement, the North Korean foreign ministry blamed South Korea for continuing military drills with the US.

The statement also said future dialogue will be held strictly between Pyongyang and Washington and not between the Koreas.

The report by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) came a day after Seoul said it had detected North Korea launching what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff had earlier said the presumed ballistic missiles fired from North Korea's east coast flew about 248 miles (400 kilometres) before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

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The testing firings verified that the new weapon system performs as designed (Picture: KCNA).

KCNA said Mr Kim expressed "great satisfaction" over the testing firings, which it said verified that the new weapon system performs as designed.

The agency did not specify whether the weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery, but said they were developed to suit North Korea's "terrain condition" and provide "advantageous tactical character different to existing weapons systems".

North Korea's fifth round of weapons launches in less than three weeks was seen as a protest against the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with the US and the continuance of US-South Korea joint military exercises that Pyongyang claims are an invasion rehearsal.

Kim jong-un speaks to military officials after launch 10 aug 110819 credit kcna.jpg_.jpg
The two missiles flew about 400 km (250 miles) at a height of around 48 km, according to the South Korean military (Picture: KCNA).

Experts say Mr Trump's downplaying of North Korea's recent short-range launches allowed the country more room to intensify its testing activity while it seeks to build leverage before a possible resumption of negotiations.

Talks have stalled since the collapse of Mr Trump's second summit with Mr Kim in Vietnam in February over disagreements on exchanging sanctions relief and disarmament.

North Korea has claimed that the joint military drills between the allies, which began on Monday, compel it to "develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defence".