Japan, US and S. Korea to conduct missile-tracking drills

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TOKYO The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold two days of missile tracking drill starting today, Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force said, as tensions rise in the region over North Korea's weapons programmes.

The US and South Korea conducted large-scale military drills last week, which North Korea said made the outbreak of war "an established fact".

This week's exercise will be the sixth drill sharing information in tracking ballistic missiles among the three nations.

Yesterday, South Korea said it would impose new unilateral sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea, barring any financial transactions between those sanctioned and South Koreans.

"This unilateral sanction will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea and contribute to reinforce international communities' sanctions against North Korea," South Korea's finance ministry said in a statement.

The move is largely symbolic as trade and financial exchanges between the two Koreas have been barred since May 2010.

It comes after a rare visit to North Korea by a senior UN official, who called for dialogue to avert a potentially catastrophic "miscalculation" in the high-stakes nuclear crisis.

Seoul's new measures, its second set of unilateral sanctions in a month, are likely to draw an angry response from Pyongyang.- REUTERS, AFP