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North Korea fires ballistic missile before Xi-Trump meeting

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North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, the latest provocation from Kim Jong Un’s regime as he seeks to build a nuclear arsenal.

The projectile was fired into the East Sea early Wednesday and flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles), South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a text message.

It follows ballistic missile tests in February and March, as the isolated country defies United Nations sanctions and works on a missile that could deliver a miniaturized nuclear weapon to the continental U.S.

Kim has launched a series of projectiles and conducted three nuclear tests since he came to power more than five years ago. He claimed in January to be in the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in March that all options, including military, are on the table to counter the regime, and North Korea is expected to feature in talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida on April 6-7.

South Korean intelligence warned in late March that North Korea could potentially detonate a nuclear device in the first week of April to “overshadow” the U.S.-China summit.

On a trip to North Asia in March, Tillerson said 20 years of diplomatic efforts had failed to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear program and he didn’t rule out a preemptive strike against the regime. Trump has said repeatedly that Kim is behaving “very badly” and China has done little to bring its neighbor into line.

North Korea test-fired four missiles last month that reached as far as Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Kim’s regime also hailed the ground test of a high-thrust engine that it said was developed for its space program. Another missile test later in March was apparently unsuccessful.

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