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U.S. calls for no more North Korean 'provocations,' hopes to resume talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday urged North Korea to refrain from further provocations after the communist country test-fired two new short-range ballistic missiles and said it still hoped for a resumption of working-level talks on North Korea’s denuclearisation.

“We want to have diplomatic engagement with the North Koreans,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told a news briefing when asked about the latest missile tests. “We urge no more provocations.”

“This administration is committed to diplomatic engagement with the North Koreans and we continue to press and hope for these working-level negotiations to move forward,” she added.

Ortagus said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would travel to Thailand, Australia and Micronesia from July 30-Aug. 6, but she had no meetings with the North Koreans to announce.

Ortagus declined to comment when asked about a report from a diplomatic source who told Reuters that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had cancelled a trip to a regional security forum in Bangkok next week where some had speculated he and Pompeo could have met.

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North Korea’s missile tests came despite a meeting between its leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates South Korea and North Korea late last month, where the two men agreed to revive denuclearisation talks that stalled after their failed February summit in Vietnam.

“What we are hoping is that after the historic visit the president had at the DMZ with Kim Jong Un ... we can continue to move forward on the commitments made in Vietnam,” Ortagus said.

“What would be most productive is for Chairman Kim and his staff and for President Trump and all his staff to continue upon the path that was laid out for us both in Vietnam and at the DMZ, and that is a diplomatic resolution and the end of North Korea’s nuclear weapons,” she said.

Ortagus stressed that the U.S. sanctions on North Korea would remain in effect until that goal was reached.

The Hanoi summit collapsed after the two sides failed to reconcile differences between U.S. demands for North Korea’s complete denuclearisation and North Korean demands for sanctions relief.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Lesley Wroughton and David Alexander; Editing by Leslie Adler