Oct 12 01:32 PM US/Eastern
By HYUNG-JIN KIM
Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea test-launched five short-range missiles Monday, reports said, in what analysts said was an attempt to improve its bargaining position ahead of possible talks with the United States.
North Korea has recently reached out to the U.S. and South Korea following months of tension over its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year. Leader Kim Jong Il told visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week that his government might return to stalled six-nation negotiations on its nuclear program depending on the outcome of direct talks it seeks with the United States.
Washington has said it is considering holding talks with North Korea as part of efforts to restart the six-party negotiations.
The missile launches off North Korea's east coast were the first by the communist nation since it test-fired seven missiles in early July, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
Yonhap, citing a South Korean official it did not identify, said the KN-02 surface-to-surface missiles were fired from mobile launch pads and had a range of up to 75 miles (120 kilometers). It said North Korea launched two missiles in the morning and three more in the afternoon.
South Korea's Defense Ministry and National Intelligence Service—the country's main spy agency—said they could not confirm the reports.