20:17 GMT14 August 2020
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    The firing of three ballistic missiles by North Korea this week is a "provocative act" against the United States and its allies, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday, adding that Washington will continue its "peaceful pressure campaign" on Pyongyang.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Saturday, North Korea test fired short-rage ballistic missiles off the eastern coast. The US Pacific Command said it had detected three launches, two of which failed in flight, while a third one appeared to have blown up almost immediately. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated the missiles had traveled over 150 miles before plunging into the Sea of Japan.

    "We do view it as a provocative act against the United States and our allies… We’re going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign, as I have described it, working with allies, working with China as well to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table with a view to begin a dialogue on a different future for Korean peninsula and for North Korea," Tillerson said in an interview on Fox News Sunday when asked about the message Pyongyang was sending by firing missiles.

    Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently flared up following the adoption of the UN Security Council sanctions in early August in response to Pyongyang’s July missile launches. The move led to North Korea trading threats and warnings with the United States, with Pyongyang saying it might consider an attack on the area near the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.

    Despite the improvement of rhetoric over the recent days, Washington and Seoul started their joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise in South Korea on August 21, which is expected to last until August 31. Pyongyang condemned the drills saying they would only escalate the situation in the region.

    In June, China initiated a road map for the settlement of North Korean crisis, the so-called double freeze plan, which provides for the simultaneous cessation of North Korea's nuclear activity and the US-South Korean military exercises. The initiative has been supported by Russia but rejected by the United States. North Korea has yet to issue a response to the proposal.


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