07/25/2019, 09.42
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Pyongyang launches two missiles and rejects rice offered by South

The decisions are in response to the upcoming joint US-South Korea military exercises. The launches took place this morning. It is not known whether the missiles are ballistic or not. Rejected - for now - 50 thousand tons of rice. 40% of the population of the North suffers from malnutrition. North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho will not attend Asean summit in Thailand.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - North Korea launched two short-range missiles this morning, which fell in the Sea of ​​Japan, over 400 km away.

Yesterday Pyongyang refused 50 thousand tons of rice offered by Seoul. Both facts are motivated by the wrath of the North towards the upcoming joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, which should take place in early August.

According to the Seoul armed forces, the missiles were launched this morning at 5.34am and 5.57am from the Hodo peninsula, near the coastal city of Wonsan. It is not yet clear whether the missiles are ballistic or not. In the first case, Pyongyang violated a UN resolution that forbids it from launching any type of ballistic missile.

The launches took place after some progress on the possible resumption of the dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington. Last June, presidents Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, meeting at the border between North and South promised to return to dialogue. But Pyongyang had also asked for the cancelation of the joint military exercises in August, warning that they could have effects on the dialogues.

The same reasoning -  opposition to the joint military exercises - was expressed yesterday during a meeting with the World Food Program (WFP), through which Seoul intends to donate 50 thousand tons of rice. It is not clear whether the refusal is Pyongyang's final decision.

South Korea decided last month to help the North address food shortages in the country. According to WFP and FAO, last year's harvests in North Korea were the poorest since 2008. It is estimated that at least 10 million people, about 40% of the population, suffer from malnutrition.

Confirming a rejection of the dialogue, the North Korean Foreign Minister, Ri Yong-ho has not yet  confirmed his participation in the Asean Regional Forum, to be held in Thailand next month. Since 2003, the Northern Foreign Minister had so far always participated in the annual meeting.

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