Just hours after North Korea test-fired two cruise missiles, the South repeated an offer to aid Pyongyang if it gave up a nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, the US and South Korea prepare for a large military exercise.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Seoul has no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent, even as the North fired two missiles toward the sea in the latest display of an expanding arsenal.
Speaking at a wide-ranging news conference to mark his first 100 days in office on Wednesday, Yoon made no mention of the launches.
"I believe the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) regime is a very important and necessary premise for permanent world peace,'' Yoon said.
He repeated the offer on Wednesday as he called for Pyongyang to return to diplomacy.
"Any dialogue between the leaders of the South and North or negotiations between working-level officials should not be a political show but should contribute to establishing substantive peace on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia," he said.
North Korea fires two cruise missiles
The South Korean military said North Korea had earlier fired two cruise missiles from the west coast town of Onchon.
It was the first such missile test reported in months.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff didn't immediately release further details, including how far the weapons traveled.
The launches came as the United States and South Korea started a preliminary drill Tuesday for their largest joint military exercise in five years.
The live field training exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield was scheduled for August 22 to September 1.
The North describes such drills as invasion rehearsals and has often responded to them with missile tests.
Denuclearization talks unlikely
North Korea's last nuclear test was in 2017, but tensions have risen on the Korean peninsula.