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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The White House will host security officials from Japan and South Korea in Washington, D.C., next week for “intensive consultations” on North Korea, senior Biden administration officials told reporters on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Officials acknowledged reports that North Korea performed a series of missile tests over the weekend, first reported by the Washington Post, but downplayed that news by calling it “normal military activity.”

  • The tests do not mean diplomacy with Pyongyang is off the table, per officials.
  • Calling this an "intensive period for Indo-Pacific diplomacy," the officials did not divulge any further details on the missile tests, like exactly how many missiles were tested. While acknowledging that such short-range systems are not covered by UNSC resolutions, the officials said they do not respond to every kind of test performed by North Korea.
  • National Security adviser Jake Sullivan will host his counterparts from Japan and South Korea.

Details: Biden administration officials said that engaging North Korea did come up during the first bilateral high-level meeting between the U.S. and China in Anchorage last week.

  • The U.S. will brief China on its approach to North Korea as it develops, but officials stressed that the priority is to first engage American allies.

What they’re saying: “We are under no illusions of the difficulty this task presents to us,” said one administration official. “We have a long history of disappointment in diplomacy with North Korea.”

  • Recently, Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, issued a warning in her first statement to the Biden administration. "If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she said.

Go deeper

Updated 32 mins ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

2 hours ago - Health

Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.

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