North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, the day before former Army Lt. Col. Mark Esper is to head to Asia on his first overseas trip as defense secretary, according to U.S. officials.
A defense official told Fox News the missiles are similar to the projectiles launched twice before in the past week.
The U.S. military is assessing how far and how high the missiles went.
NORTH KOREA FIRED ‘MULTIPLE’ PROJECTILES OFF EAST COAST, SOUTH KOREA REPORTS
Esper’s first overseas trip as President Trump’s defense chief includes stops in Sydney; Auckland, New Zealand; Tokyo; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Seoul, where he will meet with “key leaders to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral and multilateral meetings with senior officials,” according to the Pentagon.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a trip to Asia and is to meet with Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers on Friday morning.
While in Thailand on Thursday, Pompeo said that the Trump administration remains ready to resume talks with North Korea. Late last month President Trump and Kim Jong Un had agreed to a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas.
On Wednesday, North Korea’s State run news agency described one of this week’s earlier tests as a “new-type large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system.”
North Korea said its leader Kim Jong Un supervised the first test launch of the new system that could improve the Hermit Kingdom’s abilities to strike targets in South Korea and American military bases there.
NORTH KOREA LAUNCHED NEW TYPE OF SHORT-RANGE BALLISTIC MISSILE, OFFICIAL SAYS
France, Germany and the U.K. denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches on Thursday, saying the country violated U.N. sanctions and urged North Korea to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the U.S. to eliminate its nuclear weapons.
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In a joint statement sent to reporters after a closed Security Council briefing France, Germany and the U.K. said international sanctions should remain and be fully enforced until North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs are dismantled, adding that the county need to “take concrete steps toward its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.”
Fox News’ Nicholas Kalman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.