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N. Korea fires two short-range rockets off coast

Update: July, 02/2014 - 10:00

SEOUL — North Korea fired two short-range rockets off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea said, the latest in a series of missile tests ahead of a state visit to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A spokesman for the defence ministry in Seoul said the test appeared to be of two "multiple-launch rockets" with a range of around 180km.

It marks the third such test by the North in the past week – all three involving firing into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Japan, which is currently engaged in talks with North Korea on the abduction of Japanese citizens during the Cold War, has officially protested the tests, calling them "extremely regrettable".

The latest launches came on the eve of Xi's arrival in Seoul on Thursday for a summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, during which the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme will figure high on the agenda.

Seoul and Washington have persistently called on Beijing to exert more pressure on the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

On Monday the North's top military body, the National Defence Commission (NDC), proposed that the two Koreas suspend hostile military activities, along with all acts of verbal provocation and slander.

South Korea Tuesday rejected the offer as "nonsensical," and suggested that Pyongyang show its sincerity by dumping its nuclear weapons.—  AFP

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