North Korea conducts rocket engine test

China, US agree aim of 'complete' N. Korean denuclearization

South Korea finance minister vows to cooperate with US on North Korea

North Korea has tested a rocket engine that could potentially be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile, a United States official told AFP on Thursday, amid soaring tensions over Kim Jong-Un's nuclear weapons program.

North Korea's test on Thursday could be for the smallest stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) rocket engine, said the United States official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

South Korea successfully launched a test missile with a range capable of striking anywhere in North Korea, reports the New York Times.

He said: "I am a believer in dialogue, but I also know that dialogue is possible when we have a strong national defence".

North Korea's top envoy to India on Wednesday offered a conditional moratorium on his country's nuclear and missile tests in an apparent bid to hold talks with the United States.

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In his words, one of the top demands of the regime of Kim Jong-un would be to halt the joint military drills between the US and South Korea, which Pyongyang denounced as a rehearsal for invasion.

The success of this test launch signifies that we have acquired the greatest possible capability according to new South Korean and American missile guidelines.

Most of the tens of thousands of North Koreans in South Korea escaped their authoritarian homeland through third-party countries after making their way into China. One official said he believed the test had taken place within the past 24 hours, Reuters reported.

The Hyunmoo-2 is South Korea's indigenously developed ballistic missile with a range of 800 km.

The death of American university student Otto Warmbier earlier this week, after his release from 17 months of imprisonment in Pyongyang, further complicated Trump's approach to North Korea.

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Officials in the US and overseas are expressing concern over North Korea's space launch program at Sohae on the country's west coast.

Accordingly, the Trump administration should reduce the military footprint in the Korean peninsula before North Korea possibly agrees to having a temporary freeze on their nuclear and missile tests.

On Friday, a spokesman of the North's Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying that Warmbier had been abused or tortured.

Experts however say North Korea could still be years away from possessing any reliable ICBM capability, reports said.

The opening ceremony featured a historic joint performance by demonstration teams from North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation and the World Taekwondo.

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