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N. Korea in period of provocation but US prepared for dialogue: State Dept.

US Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing in Washington on Monday in this image captured from the department's website. (Yonhap)
US Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price is seen answering questions during a daily press briefing in Washington on Monday in this image captured from the department's website. (Yonhap)

WASHINGTON -- North Korea may conduct its seventh nuclear test without warning but the United States remains committed to engaging with Pyongyang in serious diplomacy, a state department spokesperson said Monday.

Ned Price also said the North currently remains in a period of provocations.

"We have spoken of North Korea's pattern of provocations in recent months. We have warned repeatedly that North Korea could well conduct another nuclear test, its seven nuclear tests with no warning," the spokesperson told a daily press briefing.

"The DPRK tends to go through periods of provocation, periods of engagement. It's very clear that we are in a period of provocation now," he added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.

Seoul and Washington have said Pyongyang appears to have finished all preparations for its seventh nuclear test.

The department spokesperson said the US remains willing to engage in dialogue with North Korea.

"We have made clear together with our allies in the region that we are prepared for meaningful dialogue, meaningful diplomacy to help advance the prospects for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said Price.

"This offer of dialogue and diplomacy has at least so far been met only with additional provocations," he added.

North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea on Sunday (Seoul time). The country has fired more than 30 ballistic missiles this year, according to US officials.

Price said the US will be ready when North Korea is ready to engage in diplomacy.

He added North Korean provocations will only strengthen US commitment to the joint defense of South Korea and other US allies in the region.

"None of these provocations have (changed) or will change our essential orientation. That is our stalwart commitment to the defense of the ROK and Japan, our treaty allies," he said, also noting Vice President Kamala Harris was currently on a visit to the region to show the US' "support for our treaty allies."

The US vice president is currently on a visit to Japan to attend the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

She will be traveling to Seoul on Thursday for a meeting with President Yoon Suk-yeol and other South Korean officials there.

ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name. (Yonhap)

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