Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a strike on Syria launched by the US and its allies as an "act of aggression" that will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.
In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader says Moscow is calling an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council over the strike launched by the US, Britain and France.
Putin added that the strike had a "destructive influence on the entire system of international relations".
He reaffirmed Russia's view that a purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake.
Putin added that Russian military experts who inspected Douma found no trace of the attack.
He criticized the US and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.
US President Donald Trump ordered the air attacks late on Friday "on targets associated with chemical weapons capabilities".
Russia's ambassador to the US warned that there would be consequences for the attacks.
"A pre-designed scenario is being implemented," Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter.
"Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences."
Antov added that it was not acceptable to insult Russia's president: "Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible."
"The US - the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons - has no moral right to blame other countries."
Later on Saturday, the Syrian presidency posted a video that appeared to show President Bashar al-Assad arriving for work hours after the strike.
"The morning of resilience," declared a caption accompanying the video circulated on the presidency's Telegram feed.
"The barbaric aggression ... will not affect in any way the determination and insistence of the Syrian people and their heroic armed forces," state news agency SANA cited an official source in the Syrian foreign ministry as saying.
"This aggression will only lead to inflaming tensions in the world" and threatens international security, the source added.
Iran also warned of "regional consequences" following the attacks.
"The United States and its allies have no proof and, without even waiting for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to take a position, have carried out this military attack... and are responsible for the regional consequences," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi on his Telegram channel.
A senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus said the Syrian government absorbed the attacks, adding that the targeted sites were evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from Russia.
"We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians ... and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago," the official said.
Around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, and a third of them were shot down, the official added.
"We are carrying out an assessment of the material damages," the official added.
President Assad has been backed in the seven-year-long Syrian war by Russia, Iran, and Iran-backed groups, including Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Explosions were heard in Damascus, Homs and elsewhere in Syria.
A US official told Reuters news agency the attacks were aimed at multiple targets and involved Tomahawk cruise missiles.

 

A new UN report puts Myanmar’s armed forces on a UN blacklist of government and rebel groups “credibly suspected” of carrying out rapes and other acts of sexual violence in conflict for the first time.
An advance copy of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report to the Security Council, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, says international medical staff and others in Bangladesh have documented that many of the almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled from Myanmar “bear the physical and psychological scars of brutal sexual assault.”
The UN chief said the assaults were allegedly perpetrated by the Myanmar Armed Forces, known as the Tatmadaw, “at times acting in concert with local militias, in the course of military ‘clearance’ operations in October 2016 and August 2017.”
“The widespread threat and use of sexual violence was integral to this strategy, serving to humiliate, terrorize and collectively punish the Rohingya community, as a calculated tool to force them to flee their homelands and prevent their return,” Guterres said.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar doesn’t recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group, insisting they are Bengali migrants from Bangladesh living illegally in the country. It has denied them citizenship, leaving them stateless.
The recent spasm of violence began when Rohingya insurgents launched a series of attacks last Aug. 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets. Myanmar security forces then began a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages that the UN and human rights groups have called a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
“Violence was visited upon women, including pregnant women, who are seen as custodians and propagators of ethnic identity, as well as on young children, who represent the future of the group,” Guterres said. “This can be linked to an inflammatory narrative alleging that high fertility rates among the Rohingya represent an existential threat to the majority population.”
The report, which will be a focus of a UN Security Council meeting Monday on preventing sexual violence in conflict, puts 51 government, rebel and extremist groups on the list.
They include 17 from Congo including the armed forces and national police, seven from Syria including the armed forces and intelligence services, six each from Central African Republic and South Sudan, five from Mali, four from Somalia, three from Sudan, one each from Iraq and Myanmar, and Boko Haram which operates in several countries.
“As a general trend,” Guterres said, “the rise or resurgence of conflict and violent extremism, with its ensuing proliferation of arms, mass displacement, and collapsed rule of law, triggers patterns of sexual violence.”
This was evident in many places in 2017 as insecurity spread to new regions in Central African Republic, violence surged in eastern and central Congo, conflict engulfed South Sudan, violence wracked Syria and Yemen, and “‘ethnic cleansing’ in the guise of clearance operations unfolded in Northern Rakhine State, Myanmar,” he said.
Guterres said most victims are “politically and economically marginalized women and girls” concentrated in remote, rural areas with the least access to services that can help them, and in refugee camps and areas for the displaced.
The year 2017 “also saw sexual violence continue to be employed as a tactic of war, terrorism, torture and repression,” he said, citing conflicts in CAR, Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan as examples of “this alarming trend.”
Guterres said sexual violence continues to serve as a “push factor” for forced displacement in places such as Colombia, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Syria. And he said it remained “a heightened risk in transit, refugee and displacement settings.”
The secretary-general said the effects of sexual violence can impact generations as a result of trauma, stigma, poverty, poor health and unwanted pregnancy.
In South Sudan, for instance, Guterres said sexual violence is so prevalent that a Commission of Inquiry described women and girls as “collectively traumatized.” He said children born of this violence have been labelled “bad blood” or “children of the enemy” and warned that this vulnerability “may leave them susceptible to recruitment, radicalization and trafficking.”
Guterres said many women, including Rohingya refugees, are reluctant to return to locations they fled where forces including alleged perpetrators remain in control.
“Colombia is the only country in which children conceived through wartime rape are legally recognized as victims, though it has been difficult for them to access redress without being stigmatized,” he said.
The secretary-general lamented that “most incidents of mass rape continue to be met with mass impunity.”
For example, Guterres said, not a single member of the Islamic State extremist group or Boko Haram “has been prosecuted for sexual violence offences to date.”

 

Turkish prosecutors have ordered the detention of 140 people, including serving army officers, over alleged links to the US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen, according to an Anadolu news agency report.
Police launched simultaneous operations in 34 provinces across the country for 70 serving army members in a probe led by state prosecutors in the central province of Konya, Anadolu said.
It said the suspects were targeted based on statements by soldiers previously detained over ties to Gulen.
The Turkish government says Gulen orchestrated the failed coup on July 15, 2016, in Turkey which killed 250 people - mostly civilians - and left nearly 2,200 injured.
Gulen has rejected the accusations.
Turkey also accuses Gulen's group of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Eighteen suspects from the Turkish navy have also been arrested over suspected links to Gulen, a judicial source said on Friday.
The 18 are among 70 officers, ex-officers, and civilian workers and officials sought by warrants, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Istanbul prosecutors issued the warrants after examining digital documents seized from a suspect.
The warrants include 15 naval officers, including 11 on duty, as well as civilian officials and teachers, the source said.
An inquiry based on the digital documents is ongoing, the source said.
On Thursday, Turkish police arrested another 58 suspects for their alleged links to Gulen.
Since the attempted coup of July 2016, Turkish authorities have detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants, according to the United Nations Human Rights office.
Turkey says the arrests are necessary to combat threats to national security.

 

US President Donald Trump's top lawyer is under criminal investigation, the US justice department has announced.
Prosecutors say they are focusing on Michael Cohen's business dealings rather than his work as a lawyer.
Cohen has been under investigation for months, the court filing says.
The filing was in response to efforts by Cohen's own lawyer to stop prosecutors reviewing material seized from Cohen's office on Monday.
Cohen's team argues that the papers are covered by the attorney-client privilege.
President Trump has condemned the office raid, calling it "disgraceful" and "an attack on our country".
During a court hearing in New York on Friday, prosecutor Tom McKay accused Mr Cohen of trying to use attorney-client privilege "as a sword to challenge the government's ability to review evidence".
Government prosecutors also said they believed Cohen had "a low volume of potentially privileged communication" because he seems to only have one client - President Trump.
"It is neither apparent that Cohen, in his capacity as an attorney, has many, or any, attorney-client relationships other than with President Donald Trump," the filing said.
It added that while Mr Cohen was an attorney, "he also has several other business interests and sources of income", and is "being investigated for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings".
A new lawyer for President Trump, Joanna Hendon, said the president had an "acute interest" in the case. Ms. Hendon, who was hired on Wednesday, asked the judge to adjourn the session so she had more time to prepare.
Lawyers tend to advise clients not to discuss investigations - which means their discussion could cause them problems, depending on what they talked about.
In a separate development, Mr Cohen reportedly negotiated a $1.6 million settlement with a former Playboy model on behalf of a Republican fundraiser, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles investor, acknowledged "a consensual relationship" with the Playmate, who became pregnant.
Broidy said it was "unfortunate" that the personal matter was "the subject of national discussion" because of the involvement of Cohen.
The investor was previously in the news after he urged President Trump to sack then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over a diplomatic dispute.
Cohen has admitted to have paid a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, $130,000 before the 2016 US presidential election.
Daniels claims she had an affair with Trump, and he and his lawyers made attempts to buy her silence.
The president denies the alleged relationship.

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that in a world aspiring for peace and development, the cold-war and zero-sum mentality look even more out of place.
"Putting oneself on a pedestal or trying to immune oneself from adverse developments will get nowhere," said Xi when delivering a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference.
Xi said humanity has a major choice to make between openness and isolation, and between progress and retrogression.
"We must dispel the clouds to see the sun, as we say in Chinese, so as to have a keen grasp of the law of history and the trend of the world," said Xi.
Xi said we live at a time with an overwhelming trend toward peace and cooperation as well as openness and connectivity.
Xi said we also live at a time with an overwhelming trend toward reform and innovation, adding that those who reject them will be left behind and assigned to the dustbin of history.
He pledged to open the country’s economy further and lower import tariffs on products including cars.
Xi said that China will sharply widen market access for foreign investors, a chief complaint of the country’s trading partners and a point of contention for US President Donald Trump’s administration, which has threatened billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods.
China would raise the foreign ownership limit in the automobile, shipbuilding and aircraft sectors “as soon as possible”, and push previously announced measures to open the financial sector, Xi said.
“This year, we will considerably reduce auto import tariffs, and at the same time reduce import tariffs on some other products,” Xi said.

An escalating war of words has broken out between Moscow and Washington over a suspected chemical attack in a Syrian rebel-held town, raising international tensions amid calls for action at an urgent UN Security Council meeting.
The US, Britain, France and six other countries requested Monday's emergency session after rescue teams and medics said a "poisonous chlorine gas attack" in Douma on Saturday killed dozens of people, including many children and women.
The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and its ally Russia have called the allegations "fabrications".
As the fallout continued on Monday, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, told the urgent meeting that Washington was ready to "respond" to the attack regardless of Security Council acted or not.
"We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done," Haley said, striking a sombre and threatening tone.
"History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria," she added. "Either way, the United States will respond."
Moments earlier, Vassily Nebenzia, Haley's Russian counterpart, had called the chemical attack allegations "fake news" and said Russia was ready to fly weapons' inspectors to the site to see for themselves.
Warning that any military action against Syria's government could have "grave repercussions", the Russian ambassador also accused US, France and Britain of "hawkish rhetoric" and "boorishness against my country", adding that their lack of a clear strategy for Syria was "appalling".
'Abrasive rhetoric'
Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said the he different narratives and the "escalation in rhetoric" laid bare the divide within the Security Council.
"The statement from the Russian ambassador was as abrasive as has been heard within the Security Council for a long period of time," he said.
"The responses from the US and its allies were equally stern and gloomy, so certainly there is a level of debate within the council that is possibly more abrasive, more confrontational and less constructive than we've heard before."
Meanwhile, Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, issued an urgent call for unity and action at the emergency meeting.
"I urge the Security Council, in accordance with its own mandate, to maintain international peace and security and uphold international law to, for God's sake, ensure a mechanism is found to investigate this allegation and attribute responsibilities."
Earlier on Monday, US President Donald Trump pledged to soon announce "major decisions" over the attack, while his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, warned against "provocation".
In a statement, the Kremlin said Putin had held a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during which the two "leaders exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria, including the accusations against Damascus by a number of Western countries of using chemical weapons.
"The Russian side stressed the unacceptability of provocation and speculation on this matter," the Kremlin added.
For his part, Trump condemned what he called a "heinous attack on innocent" Syrians in Douma, as he opened a cabinet meeting at the White House, adding that decisions would come in the "next 24-48 hours".
Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron have also vowed a "strong, joint response", while Jim Mattis, the US defense secretary, said nothing was off the table in terms of military action.
In April last year, Trump ordered air raids on Syrian government facilities in the wake of a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun , a rebel-held town, which killed at least 80 people.
"The question now is whether the president will have a similar reaction after seeing similar images coming out of Douma," Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said, adding that several emergency meetings with military and political advisers were taking place in and around the White House on the matter.
On Sunday, Trump warned Iran and Russia that there would be a "big price to pay" for backing the "animal Assad".

 

US President Donald Trump has criticized the FBI, saying that the raid on the office and home of his personal lawyer is "disgraceful".
Trump's comments on Monday came after the FBI raided Michael Cohen's New York office, hotel and residence earlier in the day, seeking documents on his clients and personal finances.
Cohen is under investigation for alleged crimes related bank fraud and campaign finance violations, the Washington Post reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Cohen's lawyer said in a statement that federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant for the raids, which were first reported by the New York Times, on a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential elections.
"I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, a good man," Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday.
"It's a disgraceful situation," he said, describing the raid as "an attack on what we all stand for".
According to US media, documents seized in the raid included those regarding a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential elections.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had sexual relations with Trump in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet about it.
Cohen admitted he made the payment to Daniels, which watchdogs say could be in violation of campaign finance laws. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels and said he is unaware of the payment made by Cohen.
Stephen Ryan, Cohen's attorney, said the FBI seized "privileged communications" between Cohen and his clients.
In a statement, Ryan called the raids "completely inappropriate and unnecessary".
'Many have said you should fire him'
The raids do not appear to be directly related to the Mueller investigation, but based on information he obtained as part of the probe.
After criticising the raids, Trump continued his repeated attacks on the special counsel's Russiainvestigation.
When asked if he would fire Mueller, Trump said: "We will see what happens ... Many people have said you should fire him."
Trump cannot directly fire Mueller, but can order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to end the probe or fire Rosenstein himself.
According to regulations, Mueller must consult Rosenstein, who oversees the probe, when he comes across information that is not related to the investigation. Rosenstein can then order Mueller to investigate or refer the matter to other authorities.
Trump also repeated past criticisms of the probe's staff, accusing it of political bias.
Mueller's team did not immediately respond to the accusations.

 

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he planned to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month or in early June and hoped the discussions would ultimately lead to an end of the North’s nuclear weapons program.
“We’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June and I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump told reporters at the beginning of a Cabinet meeting.
“They’ve said so. We’ve said so,” Trump said. “Hopefully, it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”
Trump’s comments came just a few hours before North Korea mentioned talks with the United States and South Korea for the first time, as the North’s state media said Kim Jong Un chaired a party meeting on Monday in which he assessed future talks with Washington and his upcoming summit with South Korea on April 27.
“(Kim Jong Un) set forth the strategic and tactical issues to be maintained by the Workers’ Party of Korea including the future policy of international relations and the orientation corresponding to them,” the North’s central news agency said on Tuesday.
Any meeting between Kim and Trump would come after the two Koreas hold their first summit in more than a decade later this month.
North Korea has told the United States it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when Kim meets Trump, a US official told Reuters on Sunday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said US and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly confirmed its willingness to hold the unprecedented summit.
The communications, still at a preliminary stage, have involved State Department officials talking to North Korea, apparently through its United Nations mission, and intelligence officers from both sides using a separate back channel, the official said. Before that, Washington had relied mostly on South Korea’s assurances of Kim’s intentions.
Kim Jong Un as well as high ranking officials from the North have been engaging other countries in a flurry of diplomacy in recent weeks with the North Korean leader making a surprise visit to China last month, talking with President Xi Jinping.
It was Kim’s first known trip outside the North since he assumed power in late 2011.
A North Korean delegation led by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is in Russia this week after a visit to Turkmenistan, the North’s state media said separately on Tuesday.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev held talks on Monday with Ri about the options for dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul, TASS news agency reported on Monday.

 

Missiles have struck a Syrian airbase in Homs province early on Monday, state media reported, with Russia and Syria blaming Israel for carrying out the attack.
Two Israeli warplanes, using Lebanese airspace, fired eight missiles at the T-4 military airbase, the Russian military said, but offered no further information.
The attack at the airbase, located 40km west of Palmyra, killed and wounded several people, Syrian state news agency SANA reported, citing an unnamed military source.
"The Israeli aggression on the T-4 airport was carried out with F-15 planes that fired several missiles from above Lebanese land," SANA quoted the source as saying, adding that eight missiles were shot down.
Some Lebanese media outlets said residents living near the northeastern border with Syria heard jets in the sky in the early morning hours, also suggesting that the attack may have been carried out by Israel.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not want to comment on the Syria raid.
Israel has previously targeted "Iranian targets" inside Syria. On February 10, an Israeli air raid targeted an ammunition warehouse at the T-4 military airport.
Israel's military claimed earlier this year that Damascus had allowed Iran's Revolutionary Guard to operate the T-4 military site, according to the Times of Israel.
Monday's attacks took place after aid organizations estimated that more than 70 people were killed in a chemical attack on rebel-held Douma, outside Damascus, on Saturday.
Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC, said the Pentagon denied that the US conducted the attack in Syria, even as President Donald Trump had vowed there would be a "big price to pay" for the chemical attack.
"There is also an insistence from the US that there is no knowledge that any allies conducting strikes in Syria. So the situation at the moment is clouded with confusion."
France also denied being behind the attack on the airbase, with Colonel Patrik Steiger, the spokesperson for the French armed forces, telling AFP news agency: "It was not us."
"We do know that President Trump will be meeting with his military leadership in the course of Monday to discuss an appropriate response to what the US insists was a chemical attack carried out by the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta," Hanna reported.
Damascus and its ally Russia have denied carrying out the chemical attack.
Trump condemned the attack and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump wrote on Twitter.
"President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!" he said.
Trump also discussed the chemical attack in a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, the White House said, with both leaders vowing to coordinate "a strong, joint response".
In April last year, Trump ordered air raids on Syrian government facilities in the wake of a chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed at least 80 people.
Meanwhile, SANA said the first batch of prisoners who had been kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the Adra region inside Eastern Ghouta since 2013, were released from the town of Douma.
In return, rebels and civilians will be allowed to leave Douma, the last opposition-held pocket near the Syrian capital Damascus.
Under the Russian-brokered deal, thousands of fighters from Jaish al-Islam will safely leave the town for an opposition-held area in northern Syria.
The accord will tighten the government's grip on Eastern Ghouta, a former opposition enclave, which has been the target of a sustained campaign by the Syrian military in recent weeks.
Should the government recapture the whole area - as now looks likely - it would deal the harshest blow to the rebels since December 2016, when Assad's forces regained full control of the northern city of Aleppo following a Russian-backed campaign.

 

North Korea has told the United States for the first time that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets President Donald Trump, a US official said on Sunday.
US and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly confirmed its willingness to hold the unprecedented summit, the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The communications, still at a preliminary stage, have involved State Department officials talking to North Korea apparently through its United Nations mission, and intelligence officers from both sides using a separate backchannel, the official said.
Until now, the United States had relied mostly on ally South Korea’s assurance of Kim’s intentions.
South Korean envoys visited Washington last month to convey Kim’s invitation to meet. Trump, who has exchanged bellicose threats with Kim in the past year, surprised the world by quickly agreeing to meet Kim to discuss the crisis over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States.
But North Korea has not broken its public silence on the summit, which US officials say is being planned for May. There was no immediate word on the possible venue for the talks, which would be the first ever between a sitting US president and North Korean leader.
The US official declined to say exactly when the US-North Korea communications had taken place but said the two sides had held multiple direct contacts.
“The US has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula‎,” said a second US official.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House welcomed the communication between North Korea and the United States, with one official saying the development was “positive”.
“We are aware contact between North Korea and the United States is going well,” said another Blue House official on condition of anonymity.
“We don’t know, however, up to what extent information is being shared between the two.”
On Monday, former UN ambassador John Bolton is due to begin his role as Trump’s national security adviser, while on Thursday Senate confirmation hearings begin for Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Both have taken hawkish stances on North Korea.
The second South Korean official said the South’s National Security Office head, Chung Eui-yong, could speak with Bolton over the telephone as early as Tuesday.
Questions remain about how North Korea would define denuclearization, which Washington sees as Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
Some analysts have said Trump’s willingness to meet Kim handed North Korea a diplomatic win, as the United States had insisted for years that any such summit be preceded by North Korean steps to denuclearize.
Tension over North Korea’s tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile surged last year and raised fears of US military action against Pyongyang.
But anxieties have eased significantly since North Korea sent athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. The neighbors are technically still at war after a 1950-53 conflict ended with a ceasefire, not a truce.
North and South Korea will hold their first summit in more than a decade towards the end of April.
The two Koreas have been holding working talks since March to work out details of the summit, like the agenda and security for the two leaders.
Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a surprise visit to Beijing in late March, his first trip outside the isolated North Korea since he came to power in 2011.