The US special envoy for North Korea said Monday that
Washington and Seoul agreed on the need for a strong response to Pyongyang’s
recent spate of missile tests, though they remain open to dialogue with the

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Sung Kim
flew to South Korea on for talks two days after North Korea conducted a new
type of missile test in its 13th round of weapons firing this year. Experts say
North Korea wants to advance its weapons arsenal and wrest concessions like
sanctions relief from its rivals.

tested include nuclear-capable missiles targeting both the U.S. mainland and
its allies such as South Korea and Japan. There are concerns that North Korea
may conduct a nuclear test soon to intensify its pressure campaign.

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“We agreed
on the need for a strong response to the destabilizing behavior we have seen
from” North Korea, Kim told reporters after a meeting with his South Korean
counterpart. “(We) also agreed on the need to maintain the strongest possible
joint deterrent capability on the peninsula.”

Korean nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk said he and Kim shared concerns that North
Korea will likely continue to engage in acts that raise regional tensions. He
urged North Korea to return to talks.

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Kim said
the allies “have not closed the door on diplomacy” with North Korea and have
“no hostile intents toward” the country. He repeated his earlier statement that
the United States is ready to meet North Korea “anywhere, without any

North Korea
has so far rejected Kim’s outreach, saying the United States must first drop
its hostile policy before talks can resume. Some experts say North Korea wants
the U.S. to relax sanctions or suspend its regular military drills with South
Korea, which it views as an invasion rehearsal.

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Monday, the U.S. and South Korean militaries kicked off their springtime
computer-simulated command post exercise. North Korea has previously responded
to such drills with missile tests and warlike rhetoric.

North Korea
said Sunday it tested a new tactical guided weapon a day earlier, which would
boost its nuclear fighting capability. Some analysts said the weapon is likely
a short-range ballistic missile to be mounted with a tactical nuclear warhead
that targets South Korea.

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Last month,
North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile potentially
capable of reaching the U.S. homeland in its first long-range weapons test
since November 2017.

diplomacy meant to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions in
return for economic and political rewards remain largely stalemated since 2019.