North Korea fired five short-range missiles into the sea Monday, a news report said, in the latest launch since Pyongyang's arch-enemy the United States and South Korea began joint military exercises on the peninsula.

The missiles were fired between 3:19 pm and 4:05 pm (0619 GMT to 0705 GMT) off the country's eastern coast, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul.

The isolated communist regime has launched missiles three times since the start on March 10 of the annual joint exercises, which Pyongyang describes as a rehearsal for invasion.

It fired two missiles into the sea on March 14, followed by two ballistic missiles Friday, Yonhap reported.

The US and South Korea say their military drills are defensive in nature.

The rhetoric aimed at Washington and Seoul has escalated in the past few weeks, with Pyongyang earlier this month threatening a nuclear first strike against its enemies.

In a separate development, US and South Korean officials met Monday to discuss how to implement new sanctions against Pyongyang for carrying out a nuclear test in January.

The two sides would discuss "ways to maximize pressure on North Korea" following the test, Yonhap quoted a South Korean government official as saying.

The United States fought for South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War and guarantees its ally's security with thousands of troops stationed in the country and close military cooperation.

The war ended in a truce but no formal peace treaty between the communist North and democratic South.

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