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Trump, Moon agree to increase Seoul's missile capabilities over North Korean threats

This file photo taken on June 30, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump (R) shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has agreed to help South Korea build up its missile capabilities in the face of what the two countries describe as threats posed by North Korea.

The agreement was made in a telephone call between US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on Friday.

"The two leaders noted the need to strengthen the Republic of Korea's defense capabilities to counter provocations and threats from North Korea, and reached an agreement in principle to revise the 'missile guideline' to the extent hoped by the South Korean side," South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun as saying.

Park said that Trump and Moon also underlined the importance of pressurizing Pyongyang to come to the dialogue table.

"President Moon and President Trump reaffirmed their view that it was important to have North Korea come out to the dialogue table to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue by applying maximum sanctions and pressure on the North.”

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have been heightened since North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japan’s airspace on Tuesday.

North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 missile — reportedly capable of carrying a nuclear payload — that traveled nearly 2,700 kilometers into the Pacific and triggered alert warnings as it flew over northern Japan.

The launch sparked angry reactions from South Korea, Japan and the United States, as well as calls for restraint by other countries.

An apparent North Korean intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile is launched in this photo released Wednesday, August 30, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

US, Japanese and South Korean warplanes carried out a show of force against North Korea on Wednesday.

Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.

Last week, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un ordered the production of more rocket warheads and engines, shortly after the United States suggested that its threats of military action and sanctions were having an impact on Pyongyang’s behavior.

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