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South Korea says North Korea launched missile on eve of Kamala Harris visit

South Korea’s military says North Korea fired a ballistic missile towards its eastern waters a day before the scheduled visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to Seoul.

“North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile into the East Sea,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the waters more commonly known as the Sea of Japan.

The report of a missile launch comes ahead of an expected visit on Thursday by Harris who was expected to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas.

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The launch also comes as US and South Korean navy ships are conducting drills off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast.

Japan’s coast guard also confirmed a possible ballistic missile launch, citing information from Tokyo’s defence ministry, and warned ships to be aware.

The launch, part of a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests this year by North Korea, also comes after Seoul’s spy agency warned that Pyongyang was close to conducting another nuclear test.

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Washington is Seoul’s key security ally and stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea.

The two countries have long carried out joint exercises, which they insist are purely defensive but North Korea sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

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