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Trump Keeps All Options Open for North Korea: White House

Trump Keeps All Options Open for North Korea: White House

"Sharing the view that South Korea needs to bolster its defense capabilities to counter North Korea's provocations and threats, the two leaders agreed in principle to revise the missile guidelines to a level that the South Korean side desires", read a statement from President Moon's office, quoted in the country's news agency Yonhap.

It came as USA and South Korean forces were nearing the end of the 10-day annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises, which the North regards as a rehearsal for invasion.

Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by telephone Friday, officials in Washington and Seoul said.

Seoul is now allowed to possess ballistic missiles with a range of 800 km and payload of 500 kg, but it wants the weight limit raised to 1,000 kg.

Friday night, the White House released a readout of the phone call between the two leaders, saying Trump provided a conceptual approval of the sale of billions of dollars' worth of American military equipment to South Korea.

On Tuesday, North Korea fired a missile over Japan, prompting Trump to insist that "all options were on the table" in an implied threat of pre-emptive military action.

The Pentagon had said it was "actively" considering the revision.

Ahn Cheol-soo the leader of the minor opposition People's Party speaks during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Sept. 3 2017
Trump Keeps All Options Open for North Korea: White House

Signed with the U.S. in 2001 - the year South Korea joined the MissileTechnology Control Regime (MTCR) - the agreement initially limited Seoul to rockets with a range of just 300 kilometres, due to United States concerns about triggering a regional arms race in Northeast Asia.

However, diplomats expect resistance from Russian Federation and fellow veto-wielding power China, particularly given that new measures were only announced on August 5 after North Korea tested its first two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

"Talking is not the answer", Trump had tweeted earlier in the week after the latest launch of a North Korean ballistic missile, which leader Kim Jong Un was quoted as saying was a simulation of war meant to demonstrate his military's capability to strike the USA territory of Guam.

Previous U.N. penalties have resulted in Pyongyang expressing its displeasure and demonstration of its iron-clad nuclear ambition through more missile tests.

North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and has recently threatened to land missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Park said the two leaders reaffirmed the need to bring Pyongyang back to dialogue by applying maximum sanctions and pressure.

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