SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea fired five short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday, news reports said, even as South Korea proposed working-level talks with its communist neighbor.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean government official, said the North test-fired two short-range missiles on Monday morning and three others on Monday afternoon from mobile launch pads.
Yonhap said the missiles were surface-to-surface KN-02 rockets with a range of up to 75 miles.
The reported launches were the first since the regime conducted a barrage of seven ballistic missile tests in early July, and come despite signs North Korea is reaching out to rival South Korea and the United States after months of heightened tensions over its missile and nuclear programs.
The South's conservative government has reciprocated by taking more steps to engage more with the North, but shows no signs of easing its pressure on the North to disarm.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Belfast Monday that the American efforts to proceed with talks with North Korea on its nuclear ambitions will proceed despite the new tests.
"Our goal remains the same," she told reporters after a meeting with Northern Irish business leaders. "Our consultations with our partners and our allies continues unabated. It is unaffected by the behavior of North Korea.'
Clinton was to fly later to Moscow to meet with Russian leaders on a variety of issues, including nuclear reduction concerns.
Yonhap said the North has issued a no-sail zone in areas off the country's east and west coasts Oct. 10-20 — an apparent indication the country could carry out more missile tests.
YTN television network carried a similar report to Yonhap, saying the missiles were fired off from sites south of the country's Musudan-ri missile site on its northeast coast.
South Korea's Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Service — the country's main spy agency — said they could not confirm the reports.
Earlier Monday, South Korea proposed working-level officials of the two sides meet Wednesday discuss how to prevent floods in the Imjin River running through their heavily armed border. The South also proposed a separate meeting of Red Cross officials on Friday to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
However, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said that Seoul had no plan to resume high-level dialogue with the North.
Ties between the divided Koreas had been soured after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office early last year with a pledge to get tough with Pyongyang's communist government. Tension on the peninsula further heightened after the North conducted a long-range rocket test in April and a second nuclear test in May.
Pyongyang, however, has recently reached out to Seoul and Washington. The regime toned down its threatening rhetoric, released detained South Korean and American citizens and pledged to resume key stalled joint projects with South Korea.
The Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, which means that the two Koreas are still technically at war.