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UN Official Begins Rare Diplomatic Mission to North Korea

UN Official Begins Rare Diplomatic Mission to North Korea

The UN's political chief will visit North Korea this week for talks with officials, amid heightened tensions over the North's latest ballistic missile test.

A senior United Nations official who is visiting North Korea was not carrying a message from the US government, the State Department said Tuesday.

UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will arrive in North Korea on Tuesday to meet authorities of the Pyongyang regime, according to an official statement.

UN envoy arrives in North Korea as nuclear tensions soar
UN Official Begins Rare Diplomatic Mission to North Korea

Feltman, a former American diplomat who spent more than three decades at the U.S. Department of State, is the first senior United Nations official to visit the secretive North Korean state since former Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos did so in 2011, CNN reported.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said last week that while Washington does not seek war with Pyongyang, "if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed".

Feltman, the highest-ranking American in the U.N. Secretariat, is the first person in that post to visit North Korea since February 2010.

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The five-day Vigilant Ace drill involves 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters, and tens of thousands of troops, Seoul's air force said.

The U.S. apparently signaled approval of Feltman's trip and presumably is keeping an eye out for the North's response.

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 USA within range. The visit was first said to have been discussed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September, but not confirmed until recently.

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US President Donald Trump has engaged in months of tit-for-tat rhetoric with Kim, pejoratively dubbing him "Little Rocket Man" and a "sick puppy".

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