(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential National Security Council (NSC) expressed "deep regret" Tuesday over North Korea's launch of a short-range ballistic missile and urged Pyongyang to return to peace talks at an early date.
National security adviser Suh Hoon presided over the 70-minute NSC meeting shortly after the North fired the missile into the East Sea, and was briefed by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Won In-choul, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
"The council members expressed deep regret that North Korea's launch occurred while active consultations are under way with the United States, China, Japan, Russia and other major countries to advance the Korean Peninsula peace process," it said in a press release.
"The members reaffirmed that stability on the Korean Peninsula is more important than ever and urged North Korea to come forward for dialogue about peace on the Korean Peninsula at an early date," it said.
Cheong Wa Dae characterized the North's projectile only as a "short-range ballistic missile."
But the Joint Chiefs of Staff later said what the North fired was believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The JCS said earlier that the missile was launched at 10:17 a.m. from a site near Sinpo, where the North's main submarine shipyard is located.
Tuesday's launch came as the top nuclear envoys of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan were in Washington to discuss joint efforts to resume talks with Pyongyang, which have largely stalled since February 2019, when a summit between then U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal.
Last month, President Moon Jae-in renewed his call for a declaration formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War as a way to jumpstart peace talks with the North.
"The council members agreed to closely monitor North Korea's actions going forward and come up with necessary measures in swift and close consultation with the United States and other relevant countries," Cheong Wa Dae said.
Besides the national security adviser, other participants in the NSC meeting included Moon's chief of staff You Young-min, Unification Minister Lee In-young, Defense Minister Suh Wook and other top national security officials.