Pyongyang fires ballistic missiles during Antony Blinken’s visit to Seoul

North Korea launched ballistic missiles on Monday, March 18, reported the army in Seoul, where American Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting senior officials and attending a summit on democracy.

“North Korea fires unspecified ballistic missile towards East Sea”, also known as the Sea of ​​Japan, initially communicated the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Japanese press reported at least three missile launches.

These shots follow that, on January 14, of a machine equipped with a hypersonic warhead by Pyongyang. They come days after the end of joint US-South Korean military exercises.

The United States condemned the shootings. “These launches, like previous ballistic missile launches in recent years, are in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions”declared a spokesperson for the State Department, emphasizing that these shots “threaten” North Korea’s neighbors and “undermine regional security”. “We remain committed to a diplomatic approach and call on North Korea for dialogue”, he added. But “our commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea remains unwavering”assured the spokesperson.

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Strengthening the alliance between Washington and Seoul

Mr. Blinken landed in South Korea on Sunday afternoon to participate in the third Democracy Summit, an initiative by United States President Joe Biden, which Seoul is hosting from Monday to Wednesday. Government officials, NGOs and members of civil society are present.

The head of American diplomacy met Monday morning away from the press with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, according to his entourage. He must also take advantage of his trip to discuss with his South Korean counterpart Cho Tae-yul ways to strengthen the alliance between Washington and Seoul, while the two countries seek to improve their policy of “extended deterrence” facing North.

Seoul and Washington ended their annual large-scale exercises on Thursday “Shield of Liberty”, including missile interception and air assaults. The number of troops participating has been doubled compared to 2023.

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North Korean threats

Pyongyang warned in early March that the United States and South Korea would pay a ” high price “ for these maneuvers before announcing that Kim Jong-un, North Korean leader, had supervised a large-scale artillery exercise including, according to him, border units “who put the enemy’s capital within their reach”.

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Seoul is a key ally of Washington in the region. The United States is stationing some 27,000 American troops in South Korea to help protect itself against the nuclear-armed North.

Coming to power in 2022, conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has strengthened his ties with the White House and sought to get closer to Japan, a former colonial power on the Korean peninsula, in the face of threats from Pyongyang.

Since the start of the year, Pyongyang has designated Seoul as its “main enemy”closed agencies dedicated to reunification and inter-Korean dialogue and threatened to go to war for any violation of its territory “even if only by 0.001 millimeter”.

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The World with AFP

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