Senior UN official to make rare visit to North Korea

Senior UN official to make rare visit to North Korea

Senior UN official to make rare visit to North Korea

It is an extremely rare move by the United Nations because it has been seven long years since a top diplomat from the global organization has visited North Korea.

The unusual visit by Jeffrey Feltman, which begins Tuesday and runs to Friday, comes less than a week after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of reaching the United States.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. under secretary-general for political affairs, will meet with North Korean officials, including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, to discuss "issues of mutual interest and concern", according to the U.N. He will attempt to defuse growing tensions as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.

It'll be the first time a senior United Nations official has visited the reclusive state since the former United Nations aid chief, Valerie Amos, visited in October 2011 and it comes as tensions have been renewed after Pyongyang test fired its latest, most powerful ballistic missile yet last week.

The UN official will also visit China during his trip to the region, Mr Dujarric said.

Dujarric said Pyongyang issued an invitation for Feltman to visit back in September, during the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly.

Pyongyang sent tensions soaring on the Korean Peninsula five days ago when it announced it had successfully test-fired a new ICBM, which it says brings the whole of the continental U.S. within range.

In recent years, Pyongyang has accelerated its drive to bring together nuclear and missile technology capable of threatening the U.S., which it accuses of hostility. Countries including the U.S., Japan and South Korea are watching to see what the North will ask of the a mediator to gauge how well the sanctions are working.

As well as featuring the latest generation of stealth fighters, this year's war games involve simulated precision attacks on the North's military installations, including its missile launch sites and artillery units, Yonhap news agency said, citing unnamed Seoul sources.

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