March 18, 2018 / 12:39 PM / 5 months ago

German spy agency said North Korean rockets can reach Europe: paper

BERLIN (Reuters) - North Korean rockets can now be fitted with nuclear weapons and could reach Germany and central Europe, a top official with Germany’s foreign intelligence agency told lawmakers this week, according to a report in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

BND Deputy Director Ole Diehl told lawmakers during a closed-door meeting that the assessment was “certain,” the newspaper reported, citing participants in the briefing.

At the same time, Diehl said the agency viewed talks between North and South Korea as a positive sign.

No comment was immediately available from the BND.

A senior North Korean diplomat left for Finland on Sunday for talks with former U.S. and South Korean officials, Yonhap News Agency reported, amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of a possible U.S.-North Korean summit.

North Korea is pursuing its nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

It defends the programmes as a necessary deterrent against perceived plans for invasion by the United States, which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean war. The United States denies such plans.

Tensions have eased in recent weeks, coinciding with North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics held in the South last month.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Catherine Evans

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