North Korea conducts rocket engine test

The North Korean regime will closely follow the meeting to gauge Seoul and Washington's future course of action concerning Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear arsenal and missile development, he told AFP.

North Korea has conducted the test of a rocket engine that could be seen as part of the North's program to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. official.

Responding to Yonhap News Agency's query, a USA defense official also said, "We watch North Korea's actions closely".

This photo carried by North Korea's state news agency on March 19, 2017, shows the North's ground test of a new high-thrust rocket engine.

The North has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of a year ago in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something Trump has vowed "won't happen".

The officials said it is not yet clear if the activity indicates a sixth nuclear test is imminent, but noted there is concern that North Korea could set off a test during Wednesday's visit to Washington by top Chinese diplomats and military officials.

Moon's office did not disclose the details of the missile being tested, but South Korea has been working to develop ballistic missiles with a range of 800 km (500 miles), a voluntary cap under an agreement with the United States.

The head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress last month that North Korea, if left unchecked, was on an "inevitable" path to obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the US mainland.

News of the recent test in the North came a day after Tillerson urged China, Pyongyang's sole ally, to put more pressure on the North to rein in its atomic weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

Any military solution to the North Korea crisis would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale", Trump's defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said last month. Pyongyang conducted similar tests in March.

One of the tests, which took place at the Sohae satellite launch facility, was hailed as a "great leap forward" by North Korea state media.