Blinken calls North Korea missile tests 'profoundly destabilizing'

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A missile is launched during what state media report is a hypersonic missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -North Korea's missile tests are profoundly destabilizing and dangerous and Pyongyang has yet to respond to any of Washington's diplomatic overtures, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions over North Korea's weapons programs following a series of North Korean missile launches, including two since last week.

It also wants the United Nations Security Council to impose more sanctions on Pyongyang, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Wednesday.

Blinken said the United States had made clear it has no hostile intent toward North Korea and is willing to engage in talks without preconditions.

"Unfortunately, not only has there been no response to those overtures, but the response we’ve seen … has been renewed missile tests, something that is profoundly destabilizing. It’s dangerous and it contravenes a whole host of U.N. Security Council resolutions," Blinken told MSNBC.

"I think some of this is North Korea trying to get attention," he said. "It’s done that in the past. They’ll probably continue to do that."

The United States and its allies are focused on making sure that they are protected and that there are repercussions for the North's missile activity, Blinken said.

Addressing a Washington think-tank, an adviser to the presidential candidate of South Korea's ruling party, spoke of the need for the United States and South Korea to send clear and consistent messages to North Korea to prevent what he called any further "provocation" by Pyongyang.

Wi Sung-lac, a former South Korean vice foreign minister and foreign policy adviser to candidate Lee Jae-myung told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that North Korean wrongdoing warranted a response "in a square manner."

He said Lee would take a holistic approach that would include talks and negotiations, sanctions and pressure - incentives and disincentives. South Korea's election is scheduled for March 9.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Simon Lewis and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller)

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