KCNA: Test 'verified' new weapon's capabilities

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Trump, who is on vacation at his golf club in New Jersey, said Kim spent much of his letter complaining about "the ridiculous and expensive exercises", which North Korea sees as a threat.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the training, which is divided into two parts, . involves computer-based war simulations to verify South Korea's state of readiness for the future transfer of wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul.

North Korea's recent spate of tests began on July 25, when it launched two missiles that officials believe were modeled after Russia's Iskander and appear to be created to avoid USA and South Korean defenses.

The change, which shows Kim's further consolidation of his already formidable powers, could allow him to act more clearly as a diplomat on the world stage, technically signing a peace treaty with President Donald Trump, for instance, or giving speeches at the U.N. General Assembly. Complaints about the military exercises are also no surprise since Kim has been very public in his denunciations of them.

In June he offered an olive branch by meeting Kim in the Panmunjon truce village in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, becoming the first sitting USA president ever to step inside the North. "He really wrote a handsome, three-page - I mean, right from top to bottom - a really lovely letter". When Trump met Kim six weeks ago at the demilitarised zone between North Korea and South Korea, he predicted working-level talks would begin in two to three weeks.

Trump has been playing down the significance of the North's recent weapons tests, calling them "smaller ones" that did not involve a nuclear weapon or intercontinental ballistic missile. "In the meantime, I say it again: There have been no nuclear tests". The missile tests have all been short-range.

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"If Kim felt the missile tests could jeopardise the dialogue momentum, he would refrain".

North Korea has unleashed a series of test firings of short-range weapons in recent weeks while saying that the joint military drills between the allies compel it to "develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defense". The South said that at least some of them were short-range ballistic missiles.

The tests violate United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from any ballistic missile activity.

The launches were apparently testing capabilities of a new short-range missile Pyongyang is developing, South Korea's presidential office said.

Trump has for decades complained that US allies such as South Korea, Japan and others are not paying enough for USA military protection. I've never been a fan.

But North Korea mocked those efforts in a separate report on Sunday, although it focused on the South and avoided criticizing Trump. Should Pyongyang signal increasing hostility, the United States and South Korea might do well to arrange diplomatic talks both to quell increased tension and attempt to progress in the nuclear negotiations.

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