File photo of Kim Jong-Un Photograph:( Reuters )
The reported missile launch has taken place as Chinese foreign minister visits Seoul
South Korean military said on Wednesday that North Korea had fired two ballistic missiles into the sea. This has come as China's foreign minister visited Seoul. This is Pyongyang's second missile launch in less than a week.
Analysts were quoted in the media reports to have said that timing of the missile launch was an unmistakable signal to Beijing. China and North Korea are allies but their relationship has been deeply strained at times.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the nuclear-armed North fired "two unidentified ballistic missiles" from its central inland area into the sea off its east coast.
"South Korean and US intelligence agencies are conducting detailed analysis," they added, without immediately giving details of the missiles' range.
The launch came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Seoul for talks with his South Korean counterpart.
Speaking before the news emerged, Wang hoped that all countries would help "peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula", Yonhap news agency reported.
"For example, not only the North, but also other countries are engaging in military activities," he added.
"Having said this, we all have to work together toward the resumption of dialogue."
North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend itself against a US invasion.
Talks with the United States have been stalled since the collapse of a 2019 summit in Hanoi between North
Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-president Donald Trump over sanctions relief -- and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
Kim did not visit China for more than six years after inheriting power from his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il, and tensions mounted in the allies' relationship.
But subsequently, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping met several times, and Beijing sees the North as very much part of its sphere of influence.