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North Korea Marks Major Anniversary, but No Missile Test

North Korea has marked the 101st anniversary of the birthday of its late founder, Kim Il Sung -- an occasion many believed the Stalinist state would use to carry out a missile test and increase regional tensions.

But Pyongyang did not test a ballistic missile or even a short-range rocket to mark the anniversary -- the most important holiday on the North Korean calendar. Nor was there any large military parade to mark the event.

Concern about a missile test increased last week, after South Korea said it had seen the North moving mobile missile launchers on its east coast.

South Korean and U.S. forces remain on alert for any North Korean provocations. For weeks, Pyongyang has made repeated threats of possible nuclear attack -- including against the U.S. mainland.

The situation topped the agenda of Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to the region, which he wrapped up Monday in Japan.

Kerry said Washington is willing to negotiate with North Korea for a peaceful resolution of tensions on the Korean peninsula, if Pyongyang takes steps toward abandoning nuclear weapons. But he also repeated the U.S. commitment to the defense of both South Korea and Japan.



Kerry met in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Monday. He said the two had made important advances in cyber-security, climate change and on solidarity in the North Korean threat.

The top U.S. diplomat met with the Japanese leader after telling students at the Tokyo Institute of Technology that the burden is on Pyongyang to take meaningful steps to honor commitments it has already made. He added that the North must observe laws and the norms of international behavior.

Pyongyang has been angered by joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that it sees as a prelude to an invasion of the North. Washington and Seoul have insisted the drills are defensive. North Korea also has reacted angrily to the latest U.N. sanctions imposed on it for carrying out a nuclear test in February. The United States and South Korea were among the main advocates of the sanctions.

Japan has deployed missiles around Tokyo to intercept any North Korean rockets launched toward its territory.

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