Trump downplays N Korea’s short-range missile tests

North Korea on Saturday test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles — its fifth launch within weeks — to protest against US-South Korea military drills, agencies reported citing officials.

Flying at 400 kmph, the missiles touched an altitude of 48 kilometres before falling into the Sea of Japan.

South Korea’s military is on alert as it anticipates more such tests.

The launch happened hours after US President Donald Trump said he received a three-page “beautiful letter” from North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, above, (Photo credit: KCNA) complaining about the ongoing US-South Korea “war games.”

Such exercises, if true, are a clear violation of the deal the two leaders struck at their first summit in Singapore in June last year.

Although the US and South Korea have scaled down the exercises, they have not suspended it.

The US and South Korea say the drill is defensive in nature but North sees it as a rehearsal for invasion.

Trump said he too is not happy with the joint drills.

Downplaying Pyongyang’s recent tests, he said they had been short-range and not long-range missiles.

He also hinted at another meeting with Kim. Their second summit in Hanoi in February on denuclearisation and phased lifting of sanctions on Pyongyang did not yield any results.

The two of them met briefly late in June at the heavily guarded demilitarised zone separating the Koreas and Trump made history by entering North Korea.

Although the short-range missile tests of North Korea are seen as part of its summer exercise, South fears more such tests could revive tensions in the peninsula.

In Washington, a senior official said the government is aware of the latest firing and is monitoring the situation closely.