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Kim Jong-un supervised weapons tests, North Korea says

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People watch a television news screen showing file footage of North Korea's missile launch at a railway station in Seoul on Saturday.-AFP

South Korea has said North Korea's recent launches could hurt efforts to stabilize peace on the Korean Peninsula and called for the North to uphold an agreement to form a joint military committee to discuss reducing tensions, which was part of an inter-Korean military agreement reached a year ago.

The North's state-run news agency reported that leader Kim Jong Un supervised the missile launches on Saturday, the country's fifth weapons test in less than three weeks.

"We expect the DPRK to refrain from any further provocations, abide by its stated commitments, and fully implement its worldwide obligations as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions".

The KCNA said that Kim guided the test launch of "another new weapon system" which was developed to suit the country's terrain condition and has an "advantageous tactical character different from existing weapon systems".

Yet the administration gave the impression that it is refraining from playing hardball with the Kim Jong-un regime on the missile issue. That's according to a statement released on Sunday morning, by a senior North Korean foreign ministry official in charge of US affairs.

South Korea's military on Saturday said the North had fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles.

The two leaders have met three times - in Singapore, Hanoi and at the Korean Demilitarized Zone - but critics say Trump has received few concessions in the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for the meetings.

Trump said Saturday that Kim wrote in a "very attractive letter" that he wants "to meet and start negotiations as soon as" Seoul and Washington conclude the joint drill this month.

Korea North Supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

North and South Korea are still technically at war with each other, as the Korean War ended in 1953 without a peace treaty.

North Korea has long denounced the annual exercises, which it considers rehearsals for an invasion despite allied assurances that the drills are defensive in nature. This signals potential changes from previous decades, analysts say, when it was the president of the presidium of North Korea's parliament - the Supreme People's Assembly - who acted as the ceremonial head of state. The series of short-range ballistic launches are seen as measured brinkmanship aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul and building leverage ahead of negotiations, which could resume sometime after the end of the military drills later this month. "No ballistic missile tests, no long-range missiles", Trump said. "But right now, it's as if North Korea has a licence to fire short-range missiles", Shin told AFP.

Kim has decried the U.S.

"Even the US president made a remark which in effect recognized the self-defensive rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test that a lot of countries do", the spokesperson said. He said that Kim offered him "a small apology" for the flurry of missile tests, and that he assured him they would stop when the exercises end.

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