The State Department spokesperson said the launches "are a violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and are a threat to the region."

The US national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, also condemned the launches in a phone call to his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sung-han, moments after returning to Washington with Biden.

"They both condemned the DPRK's destabilising ballistic missile tests and committed to continue building on their close coordination," a White House statement said.

In line with an assessment by Seoul, the White House said there were three missile launches. South Korea suspected that one was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Biden administration has repeatedly called for dialogue with North Korea, likely at the level of rank-and-file diplomats, but has seen no enthusiasm in return.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held three splashy meetings with Biden's predecessor Donald Trump, who said he "fell in love" with his young counterpart but reached no lasting agreement.

Even while staying low-key in its public condemnation of North Korea, the United States has moved to toughen sanctions through the UN Security Council, although diplomats say that China and Russia are set to block any action.

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