US, Japan meet amid standstill on North Korea

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday rejected a North Korean demand that he be replaced as President Donald Trump's top negotiator, as the United States and Japan vowed to continue to enforce tough sanctions on North Korea until it dismantles its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

But KCNA did not specify what the newly developed weapon was, prompting US and South Korean intelligence authorities to pore over data to determine what the test was about. Kim has been calling for an end to sanctions meant to punish North Korea for its nuclear weapons program.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that the weapons test yesterday was "conducted in various modes of firing at different targets", adding that Mr Kim "guided the test-fire". KCNA said the weapon has a special way of guiding flight and "a powerful warhead".

The unambiguous comment comes on the heels of the failed Vietnam summit in which Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump failed to reach a deal.

He added that US diplomats led by Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun would continue efforts to achieve North Korea's denuclearization, which he said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to last June. Those talks ended without an agreement.

North Korea gave no details on the weapon that was tested on Wednesday.

The acting secretary of US Defence, Patrick Shanahan, had said on Thursday that the new weapon was not a "ballistic missile".

"He said he wanted it done by the end of the year", Pompeo said during the speech.

Harry Kazianis, the Korean studies director for the USA -based Center for the National Interest, noted that Kim never promised to stop all weapons testing.

In Washington, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon that North Korea conducted a test, but said it didn't involve a ballistic weapon and didn't trigger any change in US military operations, the Associated Press reported.

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Kwon did not explain more about why North Korea was being forced to develop nuclear weapons.

Russia's role in any global negotiations will likely be as part of a group with China and North Korea itself, Konstantin Asmolov, a Korea specialist at the Moscow-based Institute of the Far East, told AFP.

Kim wants worldwide sanctions eased as part of negotiations with the Trump administration over possibly rolling back North Korea's nuclear program.

"Everyone has a clear interpretation of his speech which says that the US should change its way of calculation and come up with responsive measures before the end of the year", Kwon was quoted as saying while being careful to reiterate praise for Trump.

However, Trump says he has a good relationship with Kim. At the same time, he criticized Pompeo for telling untrue stories to get attention.

Kwon Jong Gun's comments were released hours after the regime announced that the North had tested a new "tactical guided weapon," the latest display of Pyongyang's military capabilities.

Since Hanoi, Kim and senior North Korean officials have also been openly critical of South Korea and efforts by President Moon Jae-in to play the role of middleman, saying he has adhered too closely to his American allies and dragged his feet on inter-Korean projects that would provide the North with crucial investment to build its sagging infrastructure.

The Pentagon said the test didn't involve a ballistic missile and posed no threat to the U.S. or its allies in the Pacific.

Harry Kazianis works with the Center for the National Interest in Washington.

  • Sonia Alvarado