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North Korea says it has test-fired an anti-aircraft missile

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Friday it has test-fired a newly developed anti-aircraft missile in the fourth round of weapons firings this month, even as it pushes to reopen stalled communication channels with rival South Korea in a small reconciliation step.

This month, North Korea resumed its first missile tests in six months but still offered conditional talks with Seoul in what some experts say is an attempt to extract outside concessions. On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to restore communication hotlines with South Korea in coming days to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The Korean Central News Agency said the test-launch performed on Thursday is “of very practical significance in studying and developing various prospective anti-aircraft missile system.”

It said the test was aimed at confirming the practicality of operation of the launcher, radar and comprehensive battle command vehicle as well as the comprehensive combat performance of the missile.

South Korea, Japan and the United States typically publicly confirm soon after North Korea carry out missile tests. But the North’s neighboring countries didn’t report its Thursday test, suggesting it may not be a major weapons test.

While announcing his intentions to reopen the hotlines, Kim still shrugged off U.S. offers for dialogue as “cunning ways” to conceal its hostility against the North and defending his country’s latest weapons tests.

Kim also echoed his powerful sister Kim Yo Jong’s demand that South Korea abandon “double-dealing attitude” and “hostile viewpoint” over the North’s missile tests and other developments if it wants to see the resumption of talks and major stalled reconciliation steps.

Some experts say North Korea is pressuring South Korea to tone down its criticism of its ballistic missile tests, which are banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions, as part of its quest to receive an international recognition as a nuclear power. Others say North Korea wants South Korea to persuade the United States to ease punishing economic international sanctions on it.