N Korea launches two missiles ahead of China's Xi Jinping visit to Seoul
29 June 2014, 10:03 -- North Korea Sunday fired two ballistic missiles into the sea, Seoul's military said, the latest in a series of launches staged in an apparent show of force ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the South.
The North fired the missiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) from the country's east coast Sunday morning, a defense ministry official told AFP.
'Both landed in international waters beyond its sea border,' the official said.
He did not elaborate on the type of the missile. But Yonhap news agency, citing a military official, said they were short-range Scud missiles with a range of about 500 kilometers (300 miles).
In Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera also told reporters that North Korea had launched a number of ballistic missiles.
He added that the Japanese government had lodged a protest with Pyongyang through its embassy in Beijing.
The launch came three days after Pyongyang fired what were believed to be three short-range missiles into the sea on Thursday.
The North did not officially confirm Thursday's launch, revealed by Seoul's military. But a day later, the state-run Korean Central News Agency hailed what it called the successful test of 'cutting-edge' and high-precision missiles, watched by leader Kim Jong-Un.
The launches come only days ahead of Xi's state visit to Seoul to discuss issues including the North's disputed nuclear weapons programs.
The July 3-4 trip Xi's first presidential journey to the Korean peninsula, also marks the first time in almost two decades for a sitting Chinese leader to visit the South before having been to the North.
North Korea staged its third atomic test, its most powerful so far, in February 2013, triggering new sanctions and condemnation by UN Security Council members including China.
The latest missile launches were aimed at increasing pressure on Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye ahead of their talks, said Shin In-Kyun, head of Korea Defense Network, a Seoul-based think tank.
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