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South Asia

North Korea fires ballistic missiles as Blinken visits Seoul

People walk past a television showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on March 18, 2024. North Korea fired a ballistic missile on March 18, Seoul's military said, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited South Korea to meet top officials and attend a democracy summit. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

North Korea fired short-range ballistic missiles towards its eastern waters as United States Secretary  of  State Antony  Blinken prepared  to  open  a  democracy summit  in  neighbouring  South Korea, officials have said. “North  Korea  fired  an  unspecified ballistic missile toward the East Sea,” the US Joint Chiefs of  Staff  said  on Monday,  referring  to  the  body  of  water  also known as the Sea of Japan. Japan’s  Coast  Guard,  which confirmed the launches, said the objects appeared to have already fallen. The launches come days after the US and South Korea wrapped up 11 days of so-called Freedom Shield joint military drills. North  Korea  has  long  condemned  joint  US-South  Korea military  drills,  calling  them  rehearsals for an invasion. Pyongyang earlier this month warned that Seoul and Washington would pay a “dear price” for this year’s Freedom Shield drills, which  involved  twice  as  many troops as last year. About 27,000 US soldiers are stationed in South Korea, where the  drills took  place.  North  Korea’s test on Monday was the latest in a series of weapons demonstrations  this  year,  including  a missile  tipped  with a manoeuvrable  hypersonic warhead on  January  14.  Shortly after the missile launches, Blinken and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took to the stage at the opening of the Summit for Democracy, which is this year being hosted by South Korea. Blinken’s comments came after the US House of Representatives last week passed a bill that could see the popular social media app TikTok, which is owned by Chinese developer ByteDance, banned. The  democracy  summit,  an initiative  of  US  President  Joe Biden,  has  attracted  criticism in past years due to its selective invitation  list,  with  countries  including Thailand and Turkey reportedly excluded.  aljazeera

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.